I’ve always been the kind of person who thought it was ridiculous that my mother’s friends liked to pretend they were 39 for as long as they could get away with it. My grandmother made her story so convincing, that when she passed away the family was quite shocked to find, on her birth certificate, she was several years older than we thought.
As I crawl closer to 30, I start to understand where they were coming from a little more. For me, it’s not the superficial part of it, heck, bar-tenders still look at me suspiciously when I hand them my ID and that always used to annoy the hell out of me. Still does. Maybe age makes us uncomfortable, not just because of social strictures, but because, as adults, we’re more aware of passing time and how quickly it passes. As kids, we’re eager for the next milestone, it can’t happen fast enough.
I don’t know how other people feel about it, some of my older friends scoff and are like, “thirty is the new twenty”, but to me it makes me feel rushed and a little terrified. I realize this is ridiculous, there are plenty of late bloomers, even people in their fifties still trying to figure shit out, but I had my plan when I was fourteen and it makes me uncomfortable that it hasn’t gone accordingly yet.
At fourteen, I had a vision of this level-headed successful professional writer who could talk as fast as Lorelai Gilmore and take charge like Emily. Wrong. I am still as tongue-tied and anxious as I was at fourteen except with better coping mechanisms. I can take charge better than most in a disaster, however, in social settings I have all of the Lorelai awkwardness, but none of the charm. And I am still not making money off of my writing. My fourteen year old self would be horrified to discover this floundering adult who replaced her.
Oh, to be a kid again and believe that having higher digits in front of your age is the magical remedy for all your short-comings and uncertainties. It’s not that I didn’t realize there would be plenty of responsibilities to go along with the wisdom of adulthood, I guess I just thought I would have some magical adult strategy to deal with it all.
One thing I could tell my fourteen year old self with pride is that, I haven’t given up. I’m still plugging toward that dream, still working to better myself (character development, right?), some days I backpeddle and some days I surprise myself with my progress. This is adulthood, it’s putting your big girl panties on and grabbing life by the horns even though you’re terrified. Even if you screw up and have to go pick up after yourself.
So, back to my initial point. Decades seem more like deadlines as an adult and that’s probably the wrong way to look at it. There are probably people past their thirties who might look at this post and roll their eyes. I still have a few more years before I actually hit thirty, but even if I do and I’m still shuffling through rejection letters, that doesn’t mean it’s time for quits. It doesn’t mean I ran out of time.
This thing that I do can be absorbing and frustrating, but I don’t know how not do it. I’m a story teller. I scribbled stick figures on post-it-notes before I could write the alphabet because I needed to tell my stories. I’m just gonna keep on plugging along, even if my only readers are indulgent friends and loyal critique partners.