Today, one of my nephews turned 16 and I’m just sitting here wondering how that’s possible. Wasn’t I the same age, just moments ago? Remember when we were younger, and adults would say things about time flying by — and we didn’t understand because Summer felt like it was a MILLION days away? I am now that adult who says things like “When I was your age,” and laments the popular music of today; I marvel at the technology available to youth and thank the internet Gods that we didn’t have social media when I was in my formative years. I ask people on the internet, “Remember when we were younger?”
When my mom was my age, she had already given birth to four daughters. She had the first three of us before she turned 25, so when she was pregnant with Tessa at 33 I truly wondered, “Isn’t she a little old to be having another kid? Is she still able to have babies?” Of course, I was 10 when I had those thoughts. Back then, I assumed I would be very rich and famous at 18, and my magic age for marriage was 28 — but I told everyone I would die by 25 (I was a weird and morbid child), so I either wasn’t very good at planning or didn’t actually care about marriage (I think it was the former). Kids were never a part of my equation, so I couldn’t tell you what I thought about that and whether there was some magic age to have them. But it’s funny how things never go according to our youthful expectations. For one, I’m still alive — imagine my surprise when I made it past 25 — and I’m neither rich nor famous now, let alone at 18. [For the record, I’d still enjoy being rich but fame sounds horrible.]
Now I’m 34 and many — maybe even most — of my friends are either pregnant, have children, or are currently planning for them. Unlike my younger years, I no longer think any of them are “too old” to have kids (I mean, come ON), but I sometimes feel the exact opposite. But we’re so YOUNG! This is all happening so quickly! But of course, we’re not; we’re adults. We’re real adults. We’re 16 years past the legal voting age adults. We’re “I have to seriously plan out the rest of life if I want to have certain things” age adults.
I know we’re real adults, and everyone around me is adjusting to their roles as they see fit. They’re settling down, buying houses, having babies, building major companies. I find myself envying lives I don’t want (or I don’t think I want) because I feel so far behind and insignificant in my achievements — even compared to some girls I know who haven’t even cracked 30. Am I having an existential crisis? It feels like I’m the odd one out who still can’t figure out “real adult” things without googling it every step of the way. Kids and marriage aside, I’d love to buy a house. I’d love to know how to responsibly invest my money. I’d love to be brave and/or knowledgable enough to start a new career venture I’ve been wanting to pursue. But I’m frozen, and I sometimes wish I had someone to hold my hand through the process. You know, a real adult. Even though I’ve enjoyed my 30s a whole lot more than my 20s, it’s still so hard for me to think of myself as a “real” adult.
I’m 34 years old and I’ve lived more than twice the amount of my nephew’s lifespan, and though I’m both akin to 80-year-old women or a little girl depending on the day, I feel perpetually 22. Of course, I guess I can blame that on my younger self’s poor planning. I never did get past 25.