I was in the cafeteria, eating a plate of pasta prepared with sauce that may or may not have been ketchup diluted with water, when a girl walked by me.

And she was pregnant.

This was something new to me. I’ve never had a pregnant classmate before. Part of that is due to the fact that I went to an all guys school, but even beyond my schoolmates, I’ve never known anyone my age to be pregnant before.

Sixteen year olds do get pregnant, I’m aware (and MTV is too, but I won’t go there). It just doesn’t happen that often. High school ranges from ages 13-18, and even though the media makes a big deal out of teen pregnancy rates, it’s still not all that common to see a pregnant high school girl. I’ve never seen it, at least. And I don’t know anyone who has.

But undergraduate students in university range anywhere from 17-22 years of age. The pregnant girl was probably around 20. She might have been younger or older, I couldn’t tell for sure.

The weird thing about it is that it wasn’t that weird.

I mean, a sixteen year old getting pregnant is weird. You’d question her decision-making skills and her upbringing a little, wouldn’t you? At least I would. 

But a twenty year old getting pregnant isn’t that weird. It’s a little young, for sure. But it’s not weird like a sixteen year old getting pregnant.

I don’t know. It just felt weird to realize that I’m getting really close to the age where pregnancy in females goes from being taboo to being celebrated.

Even more weird is that fact that there is actually the possibility of one of my classmates getting married by the time their undergraduate careers are through. My mother was married at 21, after all.

I understand that planning a wedding while balancing school is difficult, but it is possible. And that’s the thing: It’s possible. In high school there wasn’t even the most remote possibility that one of my friends would be getting married. But now, there is a chance. Probably not in first year, or second year, and not really even in third year. But in fourth year, you’re 21 or 22 years old. And suddenly, you’re into borderline marriage range. Marriages are generally happening later in life now, but 22 is still borderline.

I just find it weird how the nature of relationships has changed so quickly. In high school, even at the end of grade 12, break-ups were a foregone conclusion. I remember a time when I would congratulate friends on making it six months with the same girlfriend/boyfriend. Occasionally a long-term relationship would sprout up, but the reality is that 95% of all relationships died within a few months. And even if you hadn’t broken up at the two month mark, you’d break up at the six month mark, or at the one year mark. But at some point, you’d break up. That much was certain.

But now suddenly the inevitable break up isn’t that inevitable anymore. And long-term relationships seem to have become more common than short term ones. Just looking at my friends, almost all of them are either single or have been dating the same person for over a year now.

And yes, I recognize that these year long relationships started in high school as opposed to university. What I’m saying is that the attitudes towards these relationships has shifted from "It’s puppy dog love, it’ll be over in three weeks." to "It might end. But it might not. Ever."

I’ve generalized here, and I’ve spoken from an outsider’s perspective. As such, I’ve probably offended at least one person in a long-term relationship. Every couple likes to think that they’re "different" than the others, after all. And to be fair, some couples are different. But I don’t think that I’m far off the mark here.

University is a strange and scary place.