Thursday, September 11, 2014

On aging, adulthood, and the pursuit of neither

So I had another birthday. Birthdays are an annual consequence of not dying, so I'm pretty damn happy each time one rolls around. But this one ... oh, this one sorta threw me for a loop.

The number wasn't anything earth-shattering. No, it's more the nearness of this number to another number that has me reeling.

48. Or, as my mind is processing it, an equation that amounted to 50-2. For some reason, 50 is sending me into near-panic-mode, and it's two years away.

The same thing happened at 25, so maybe each quarter century I'm going to freak out. 

Truth is, at age 25, there were things I thought I would have accomplished, and I was so not there. I thought I'd be married, settled down, stable. I thought I'd have my career set in stone. Most shockingly, I thought I'd feel like an adult.

And now? Well, if I'm honest, none of those things are true, and I'm staring down the barrel of the big five-oh. I'm not in any danger of dating, much less having a relationship that might end in marriage. (Mostly because the universe frowns on one marrying herself; seriously, I am in a very committed relationship with me.) Stable is not a word one would use to describe me, although sometimes I smell like I live in one. (I would not, however, use the word "unstable" to describe me, either. I fall somewhere in the middle.) My career is mostly comfortable, in that I'm working in a field that fuels me, but I'm pretty sure there will be more changes between now and retirement. (I'm also reasonably certain I may never retire, because there are still occasions when I manage money like an infant.)

But the big one - feeling like an adult? Oh, honey. I'm far from it.

Maybe I'm not destined to go there. Maybe, as one boss put it long ago, I'm created to wear my inner child on the outside.

Clearly I do not have all the answers. If I'm honest, I've still only figured out about half of the questions.

And I think that's okay. I am living authentically, and I'm healthier than I've been in my adult life. I have a family that is always in my corner, an intensely loyal core group of friends, and what I've been told is an enviable life. I'm happy (most of the time), and I work at that; happiness is a worthwhile pursuit, and something I've discovered in the most unlikely of places. So I have to determine that my age is just another number by which I can choose (or not choose) to measure myself; the sum total of my trips around the sun. So here's to the first 48, and here's to the next. At 96, we'll see if I feel like an adult.

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