I have spent most of my life terrified of being a grown up. I thought that it would be boring, depressing, lame and embarrassing. If you asked me, the ONLY benefit of being an adult was getting to eat ice cream for breakfast…and maybe the idea that you could have a kitten without begging your mother first. Also, when I still got a tax return, I kind of liked that. Oh yeah, and I did like the whole concept of having a home of my own in which to have sex…not that NOT having one ever did much to slow me down.
I was scared of becoming irrelevant, fat, unattractive, and being forced to drive a mini-van around while young people in Miata’s drove by laughing at my sloppy middle aged pathetic ass. I mean, I thought that just naturally happened when you hit a certain age. Now, here I sit, 38- nearly 39, and it occurred to me yesterday that A) I am an adult, and have been for quite some time, B) Being an adult without being a grown up is at least as sad as driving around in a mini-van, and C) I think I am finally growing up. And I really like it.
Here are a few reasons why I think I may be growing up:
It hit me that the whole purpose of working at a job is SO THAT YOU CAN PAY FOR THINGS LIKE BILLS. I mean, obviously, the hope is that you can get to a spot where you can also buy cute shoes, go out to dinner, and maybe take a vacation once in a while. But when you are a grown up, you pay your bills first and then see what is left. Hopefully, something. Maybe you sock some away into a savings account, maybe not ( I said I was growing up, I didn’t say I was all the way there yet, cut me some slack!). But you don’t go buy the shoes, go out to dinner, and then see what you can to about paying some bills. If you do it that way, you are adding a whole lot of stress to your life. By paying bills first, at least you know that even if you hate your shoes, you’ll have light to glare at them with. This was a big breakthrough for me.
Another thing- It can take years to reach your limit with misery. My threshold has proven to be extraordinarily high. But once you reach it, maybe go a little beyond it, then finally get the hell out of it…Well, you realize that happiness, YOUR own, personal, happiness in life is THE MOST PRECIOUS thing you have. When I am not happy, there is no way I can make my kids happy, no way I can run my life with any hope for success. So I have become as protective of this happiness as I would if it WERE one of my children. I am not willing to make the kind of decisions I have in the past that led me to misery. I just won’t do it. Which leads me to this:
As a grown up, you learn that you can trust your gut instincts. Looking back over my life, the times I did not do this, things have never gone well. I promised myself a long time ago that once I was free of my last relationship, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever go against my gut, not ever again. Last week, I chose to honor that promise, and I have no regrets. I am not going to complicate my life until I really think it is worth it, and I am not there right now.
Most wonderful of all of my discoveries, however, is this- Being a grown up can be amazingly fun, and really liberating. You know what? I have gotten a little fat, and I don’t turn heads the way I once did. Big fucking deal! Who needs that kind of scrutiny, anyway? It really bothered me for a while, but (thank GOD) I am so okay with all of it now. I had all that, for a long time, and now it is a younger generations turn. In the meantime, I am getting down to meat and potatoes of life- connecting with friends, taking care of myself, mentally, spiritually, physically, and with great affection and care. I don’t have to spend the time I once did wondering how I looked to everyone else. And I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about that shit.
I love the knowledge gained with age- that we really are all going to look like idiots at times, and that can be part of the fun. I love finding that growing up can exist harmoniously with having a young, fun spirit. I really love the realization that this world is so big, there are no limits on the adventures and experiences we can choose to have…the only problem I can see now is how there will ever be enough TIME. But I will cross that bridge when i get to it.