Am I a Grown Up?
I was walking on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey this past weekend when a thought occurred to me- Do I look like a grown up?? I had on cut off jean shorts, a funky tank, red mirrored shades and an old school Jeff cap. The simple answer to this is most likely no. But what does a grown up even look like?
I’ve been thinking about this lately. Not just do I look like a grown up but even more so, am I a grown up? Because honestly I don’t always feel like one. And when I look at the way I live my life at 36 years-old, it doesn’t line up with the traditional “grown up” stats: I am not married. I don’t have any children. I don’t own a house. I don’t trudge to work on Monday mornings with a frown on my face and the sleep still stuck in my eyes. On the contrary, on Monday mornings I am usually snuggled in bed with the light streaming in, a cup of herbal tea on my night stand and a young adult novel in my hands. True story.
Do you see what I’m getting at? For much of my life I have been fed the unsavory mush of what it means to be a grown up. I (and I know I’m not alone in this) have bought into the stereotype of what a grown up looks like, acts like, how much money she makes and on and on. We see it in movies where these young “grown ups” are living in expensive lofts with fancy jobs and sitcoms where we laugh as parents wiggle their way through the toddler years.
When I was little I would dress up in my Mom’s high heels and sparkly costume jewelry and flip through the pages of the JC Penney’s catalogue and pick out my entire life. I waned to be a lawyer from the time I was 11. I wanted a big house with a pool in the backyard and 3 kids running around. But things change. Well everything except the pool. I still want that…
What has changed is that at 36 I am nowhere near the person I thought I would be. I am much much better. My opinions have changed. My beliefs have changed. My focus has changed. But what has not shifted is something that was born a very long time ago- conditioning. My ego with it’s archaic beliefs of what a grown up looks like has somehow stayed the same. And that belief system- that a real adult at 36 years-old is married, with children and a job that requires a suit and a 9-5 schedule sometimes has me questioning if my life is really a success.
And I’m not saying I don’t want to get married and sometime soon have children. I actually would like to do these things. I am not resistant to any of this. I just want them on my terms. I also want to remain silly and joyful and spontaneous. I want to travel and truly LIVE. For some reason it seems that to cross over the threshold into adulthood brings with it an understood melancholy that lingers like an annoying cold that you just can’t seem to kick.
But something else hasn’t changed. Potential. Remember when you were 12 and had all of these plans for the future? It seems when we get older and reality hits that it can be so easy to sink into the oversized comfy chair of complacency as the realization that we will never actually fulfill our dreams so why ever bother hits us like a cannon ball in a pool. But I still have this. I still believe in my own potential. I still want BIG things. I’m still going after them. I think my best years may very well be in my 40’s. I have no idea what 70 is going to look like but I have a feeling it will be way different from 36. I don’t ever want to roll over and die.
So am I a grown up? Not really. Not the one my little self created many moons ago. But I’m definitely an adult. I definitely am a woman. One who makes her own rules and owns her own business and loves her own way. And if I’m being honest (which I always will be on this blog) the shoes still feel a little big. I do have a ways to go when it comes to some matters. But I’m ok with that. I don’t think we ever really stop growing.
So what about you? Do you lead an unconventional life? Do you feel like a grown up anyway? Did you feel more like a grown up once you had children or got married. Do you feel like your life is a book still being written? I’m really curious. Leave you thoughts in the comments below.