I don’t remember my 18th birthday.
There are a lot of details from that spring that have simply just left my memory. It was such a busy time: turning eighteen, senior year, graduation, college stuff. But I can tell you what I wasn’t thinking about: what twenty years into the future would look like.
I never could have imagined what my life would look like as I waited to cross that stage to get my diploma. I didn’t even know what the next six months would be like!
There was a time when I thought getting older and being an adult was the worst thing ever. I wanted to stay young and seemingly invincible for as long as I could. The day I turned twenty, my brother called me and said, “Happy birthday, Old Sister. Don’t break a hip now that you are not an invincible teenager anymore.”
I laughed, but part of me believed that being in my twenties meant I was a grown-up. Oh, how that makes me laugh now! My early twenties were still filled with rented apartments with friends, bar nights to play darts, and sleeping until 1oam because I had nothing before 11am. Ever. Not exactly being a grown up.
I really had no idea.
On Easter day I turned thirty-eight. Thirty-eight was OLD to me back then. Thirty-eight meant the party was over and it was time to go through the Boring Years.
I had thirty-eight all wrong.
There is nothing boring about being thirty-eight.
In fact, if you have been following along this week as a chronicle the life and times of the Sluiters on spring break, you know that even boring days are not really boring. No, we are not out whooping it up on a beach somewhere, but life still stays interesting.
I found my very first journal the other day cleaning my closet. One of the entries I read through said something like, “everyone says adolescence is the toughest time in someone’s life, but I really think it’s your early twenties. I mean, who the hell am I and who am I going to end up being? It’s like hanging out in a big ass question mark.”
And that was just it. While I did a lot of silly ridiculous things in my teens and twenties, it was also like living out of boxes after you move…not permanent. Not settled.
I hate hate that feeling. Things need a place, a home. I had disorganization; it makes me feel scattered and anxious. Under the mad fun I was having, was a ball of anxiety and nerves. I was stuck between stupid kid and young adult.
Don’t get me wrong, those years were fun. But I never want to do them over again.
Being in my 30’s has been scary, life-changing, and definitely not boring. All three of my kids were born between my 31st and 37th years. I’ve hit my stride professionally. I’ve read more books in my 30’s than I did in my teens and 20’s combined. I’ve traveled by plane across the country alone. Twice.
I’ve learned a ton about myself in therapy and through writing. Through being Cortney’s wife and Eddie, Charlie, and Alice’s mom.
Although I now openly talk about my struggles with anxiety and depression, I am much freer than I was back when I wrote that journal entry. I know myself better. I know how to get my thoughts more focused and what to do when I need to calm down due to anxiety. I know what works and what triggers.
Plus I am no longer moving every single fall like in college (two dorm rooms, a house with four other girls, two apartments, and a house my grandparents owned all in less than six years).
Being thirty-eight might be more settled, but it’s most definitely not boring.
Reminder: Tickets are on sale now for the Listen To Your Mother: Southwest Michigan show that I am a part of!