I regret being a married student at Ohio State University. I feel like I wasted my college years.

Jenna Lee was married all through college.Jenna Lee

  • I got married at 19 and started college at Ohio State as a married woman.

  • I struggled to connect with students, I didn’t live in the dorms and I didn’t go to parties.

  • Now that I’m divorced, I’ve realized that I missed out on the “normal” college experience, and I regret it.

At 18, I was eager to get out of my living situation. I met a man I was interested in, so I rushed through the next steps in our relationship.

At 19 we got married and I became a married student. Unfortunately, I missed out on many of the “normal” college experiences because I spent most of my time with my husband and didn’t have much in common with the other students.

Now that I’m 35 and divorced, I can’t help but regret wasting my college years as a married woman. But now I realize it’s never too late to have youthful adventures.

My childhood turned into adulthood before I knew it

My childhood was the opposite of normal and I couldn’t wait to put it behind me. My mother used drugs and drank, but I remained a good student. I got good test scores and wonderful teachers made my college applications shine. Fortunately, I got into Ohio State University.

The summer before my freshman year of college, I met my future ex-husband. He was quite a bit older than me, had already graduated from college and lived alone. We quickly fell in love with each other.

I was at his place so often that finally he said, “You can bring your things if you want.” So I did. When his lease came up for renewal, we added my name. When he asked me to marry him, I said yes.

Honestly, at that point I didn’t even think to question it. I was 18, we were dating and it seemed like we were in love so we did it. I was 19 and he was 25 when we said, “I do.”

When college started, I felt isolated from my classmates

Because I lived with my husband and not in the dorm, I had a very different lifestyle than most students. My whole life was centered around my husband: his friends, his work and his family.

I scheduled all my hours during the day while he was at work so I could be home to make him dinner and take care of the house.

As a result, I didn’t really have any friends at school because none of the people I met knew how to interact with a married 19-year-old who didn’t go out partying. I went to classes and talked to people, but I never really felt like I belonged. My classmates were talking about things I wasn’t involved in and it was like they were living in another world. Back then I thought I was better and that I was more mature than the “kids” around me, but the reality was that I was still a kid.

I ended up finishing college in three years and my husband and I continued to work the same job together. It wasn’t until I was 27 that we divorced.

I could make lifelong college friends and travel with them. I could study abroad with other students or live on campus in a dormitory. I wish I could do all these things, but I let what turned out to be a messed up relationship take control of my life.

I didn’t get to explore as expected in college. I had already fallen into the “forever” trap. Maybe it would have been different if I had been different—if he had been different. Unfortunately, we can never go back.

I’m past college age now and looking to make up for the adventures I missed

I am engaged again to a man who is a better fit for who I am and who I want to be.

Sometimes I still think about the things I missed in college. I’m slowly coming to terms with everything – especially doing them all now. Still, nothing stops me from going to parties or clubbing these days. I can now easily travel abroad. I have responsibilities, of course, but I also have something I didn’t have then: money and a new perspective. I know who I am now and I have a partner who is 100% with me and supports me.

I’ll never be able to go to college again, but I can still go on adventures.

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