Here’s How I Really Feel About Getting Older
As a twentysomething, I am appropriately pretty confused about all things. All the things in life have my head spinning, and I’ve learned that that’s fine and expected and I can deal. I’m also appropriately afraid of growing up even more, of being thirty and beyond, of living my life so much differently than I do now, of having insane responsibilities and no longer feeling carefree (if that’s what it’s like, idk). But I also feel something completely different about growing up: pride.
Most people love having people do things for them, but from as far back as I can remember, my damnable pride has kept me from letting anyone take undue care of me. Seriously, when I’m sick with fever and/or can’t move from the couch, I would rather not let my parents or sisters help me. It’s very much appreciated of course, but I can do it myself.
All my life, I’ve been the baby of the family and been alternately doted on (by my parents) and teased (by my sisters). There’s a common idea that the babies of the family get away with everything and are immeasurably spoiled, and while it’s true that maybe I did have some more leeway growing up and I do enjoy my belongings, that old stereotype doesn’t really apply to me. I’m stubbornly independent and resent having to accept help. I feel pride in learning how to do things all by myself, so that I won’t ever have to ask anyone. And that’s sort of how I feel about growing up, and how I’ve always felt.
When I learn how to change a tire (albeit in theory only) or how to navigate an international airport all by myself (and not get stopped by security for having 4 oz. bottle instead of 3) or how to file taxes or open an IRA, I feel such glowing pride. I am Adult. And that’s probably how a lot of people feel when we learn how to successfully adult, but it’s also that pride and sense of accomplishment that keeps that crazy fear of getting older at bay, at least for me.
With every year I get older, I try to become wiser and more experienced. I try to push myself to greater heights, to accomplish what scares me, to see more of the world, to become a better person. And when I remember childish moments in my past I’m both satisfied that I’ve grown up and aware that I also have a lot more growing up to do. Instead of dreading that growing up, I’m looking forward to it.
I’m looking forward to it because life isn’t encapsulated in your youth. Most of our life, and most of our living, occurs when we’re adults. I love hitting milestones, even super boring ones, because it means I’m responsible, functioning, able. Maybe my upbringing as the baby and constantly being called such instilled in me this need to prove myself (that’s actually definitely what happened. Hey, psychology!). I love growing older because I’m constantly proving that I’m capable of being an adult, that I’m good at this.
I want to make sure I’m slaying at this life thing, even if I haven’t gotten everything together yet (even if no one has it together). I want to make sure I’m at least capable of doing something. I look forward to buying a house and having to pay a freaking mortgage, to confidently filing my own taxes, to saving for retirement, because at least then I’ll have proved I can do all of these things and more.
But I’ve also learned to redefine my own idea of adulthood. It does include all the crazy financial things and maybe even having a family (maybe) but it also means, to me at least, never growing up too much. I always want to remain in touch with my inner child and make her happy, which means going after my dreams and remaining optimistic, carefree and childlike in my endeavors. I want to still go on adventures, learn new things, be filled with joy, awe and wonder at the world and my place in it. I’ll just do it without debt. Because I am Adult. Hear me roar.