Today is my birthday and I am thirty-seven years old.
I have a lot of friends who hate to be reminded of how old they are, avoid telling people their age, and don’t draw attention to their birthdays. But neither my birthday nor my age make me feel old. Only once did I completely freak out about my age and have a “bad” birthday–the kind where you lie on your bed in your jammies staring at the ceiling and petting your cat and planning out your life as the Crazy Cat Lady.
It was my twenty-fifth and I didn’t have a full-time job (I was barely paying the bills by substitute teaching), had just been dumped from a long-term (five years) relationship, and was back living in my small town that I felt was confining and suffocating. I was sure that my life was screwed. My master plan for my future had been flushed down the toilet and I felt out of control and out of luck. I didn’t even get out of bed that day.
Within six months, I found out how wrong and ridiculous I had been. That fall I was hired in to my current school district, I had been accepted to grad school, I started dating Cortney, and I was seeing the benefits to living in a small, close-knit community.
That was also the last time I freaked out about being “too old” or about it being “too late” for anything. It was the first and last time I ever cared about my age.
So that brings us to now: thirty-seven–an age where I thought I would be a lot more…settled. I think back to when my parents were my age and I was a kid. From my perspective, late-30’s is when you are an adult. I’m not sure why, other than that is the age when I began to be aware of how old my parents were in relation to me, so by default late-30’s are when you become an adult.
But here’s the problem: I don’t really know what it’s supposed to feel like to be an adult, although I do think I am probably feeling more adultish lately than I have in the past.
In my 20’s, I was technically an adult, but everything I did felt like I was a kid trying to be an adult. Even at my own wedding when I was twenty-seven I remember saying, “OMG! This is such a GROWN UP THING! Getting married!!!”
When Cortney’s dad died, I felt like an impostor. I was just a kid posing as an adult who knew how to cope and grieve with the loss of someone so close.
When I got pregnant the very first time I was twenty-nine. I couldn’t even look my dad in the face to tell him. I knew that he would know what Cortney had done to his daughter to make that happen. I felt like a teenager “in trouble”.
Somehow my thirties slowly changed that attitude, and now at age thirty-seven, I find myself feeling like what I guess is what being an adult feels like. I think I thought it would feel more boring. Like, once you find yourself being an adult, you are now feeling boring and not caring about being fashionable. Being and “adult” probably feels a lot like giving up on immaturity and inappropriateness.
But I’m finding that is not what it is at all…or at least not what it is for me.
It’s hard to explain.There is a feeling of being “in charge” and being more confident, yet I’m still ridiculous and immature–I mean, farts will ALWAYS be funny. Sorry Mom.
I have gotten two degrees and am working on applying for my third, yet I still use the word “turd” regularly.
I can take charge of a classroom of eighth graders, yet I rap to DMX (loudly) in the car (without kids, I’m not that ridiculous).
It’s like by this age I have stepped up my game of responsibility while at the same time embracing the stuff that may be immature, but makes me ME. Some of my strongest writing is academic, but I promise you that I will never get so scholarly that I am above using words like “crap bag”.
While thirty-seven is all adultish to me, I also know that being an adult doesn’t mean my life is over. There are still lots of things I want to do when I grow up. Ok, I am grown up…but I know I will grow up even more which means there are so many more possibilities out there.
Thirty-seven is really just the beginning of a whole new era! One where all my children are born and my husband is a part-owner of a business and I get to weigh the possibility of a new degree and even more opportunities. That is the fun of being an adult–you get to pick what to do next. You get to choose your own adventure!
You get to eat from the secret stash of birthday cake Oreos when the kids aren’t looking even though you had dessert with them a few minutes ago!
So yes, I am thirty-seven and an adult.
Let’s eat cake!
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