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Condition of the Month-January

January 8, 2014

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the month again. Since we just started a new year, the princesses decided to do a bit of reflection. Being in your twenties is the awkward time  when you don’t really feel like an adult but you don’t think you’re a child anymore either. So this month we looked back over the past year to discuss what makes us still feel like a child, and what makes us feel like an adult.

little merskank tileWhen I have I last felt like I was still a kid?  Well, the most recent time was coming back to the US for Christmas and driving my mom’s car.  Having a car is so liberating: you are on your own schedule and you can go anywhere.  No waiting in line, no missing the bus, no advance planning.  But somehow, at 24, I still don’t have a car.  I used to have one back when I was in high school, but I sold it when I left for college and have never owned one again.  Now there are decent reasons for this: first, because I was a college student living on campus in a city with pretty acceptable public transport, and later because I was/am living in a foreign country where gas is really expensive and they drive on the opposite side of the road.  So yeah, I think that probably not having a car is the right choice for me right now (not to mention more favorable to the environment)… but still, I can’t help feeling like a kid when driving around my mom’s car is the most freedom I’ve felt in months.
As for being an adult, somehow that is a more difficult question for me.  No immediate answer comes to mind.  I guess I feel like an adult most of the time.  In a way, I could not feel this way as I am ‘still in school’, but my PhD program is so self-directed that I get to structure my own time, priorities, and ideas however I would like–basically, my PhD is my job, and an epically awesome one at that.  Also, in the last year, I feel like I have been getting better at making my own choices and taking responsibility for those actions, something I believe is an important part of a adulthood.

snowwhore tileSurprisingly, I would say that throughout the majority of 2013 I felt like an adult. I got promoted at work and suddenly had to start wearing business clothes. Then my husband got laid off, and I was our sole wage earner. Nothing says adulthood and responsibility and lots and lots of stress like being your family’s primary wage earner.  This year was very real for me, and very hard. I spent most of the time trying and failing not to worry too much about money. I started caring a lot about my job because I knew I had to excel and work as much as I could to keep us stable.  My husband has had some contract work recently, but I still don’t feel like we’re out of the woods yet.  I am normally a really fun, crazy person, but I don’t feel like I’ve had much of a chance to express that recently.

The times this year that I’ve felt most like a kid have probably been when I was actually around kids. I babysat my nieces a few weeks ago and I spent most of the night dancing around to MC Hammer. And I still kind of feel like a kid when I’m around my family. Most of that stems from the fact that I am the baby of my family and that dynamic never really goes away. Even though my brothers and I are all adults and all married, I don’t feel like I’m at the same level. It’s still hard for me to see them as peers. I am the kid sister who is still figuring everything out.  But I don’t really think that’s a good indicator of being a kid or an adult, because when I really think about it, everyone is still trying to figure everything out until the day they die.

sleeping booty tileWith my dad on the river I felt like an adult, taking time to look out for him and help him where I could. With my mother at dinner I felt like a child, angstily reminding her that I could eat whatever I wanted to. With my quilt I felt like an adult, relishing my time alone to craft and create. With my friends in Seattle I felt like a child, wanting only to be cuddled and reminded everything was going to be okay. With my cousin in Colorado I felt like an adult, dancing and drinking and diving head first into the present. With my brother in the car I felt like a child, arguing with him over the way to look at life. With my friend at a party I felt like an adult, showing her how to be brave and talk to strangers. With my coworkers I felt like a child, unsure if I’ll ever really care what color to paint the walls of my bathroom. With my commute I felt like an adult, driving to and from work because that is what people with jobs do. With my dog I felt like a child, saying goodbye to the pet who taught me so much. With my family friends at Thanksgiving I felt like an adult, proud of who we’d all become. With my family at Christmas I felt like a child, opening my stocking to find oranges and apples like we used to. With my map I felt like an adult, proud to be choosing something that means a lot to me.

Over the last year I’ve felt all sorts of in between, riding the line between adult and child like it was my job. In practice and on paper I’m not a girl and not yet a woman. But I’m okay with it, because lately I feel like maybe becoming an adult is more about learning how to make decisions and how to react to ones out of your control than anything else.

cinderslut tile (2)For me, 2013 was a great year. I’d also say it was full of more “Wow, I’m an adult!” moments than any year before. One of the biggest ones was just having my first full-time teaching job. That meant I had something important and meaningful to go do everyday, and 92 teenagers who looked at me as a real adult and role model. It actually felt like quite a burden at times—I wanted to be the best teacher they ever had and change everybody’s life forever, all that idealistic jazz people go into teaching for. Well, I learned that teaching is a time-consuming, difficult, very-much-adult job that doesn’t always follow anyone’s ideals, but I still loved it and was proud to be a “real teacher” for the first time. I also had one other adult milestone this year: I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. I put a lot of pressure on myself about this. I wanted it to be perfect, so I cooked my butt off for days, making tons of dishes including 3 turkeys. In the end it was fun to share the holiday with our international friends, and I now know I can cook a turkey (thanks in large part to Pinterest and other websites). I still need to perfect my gravy-making, though.

However, even though 2013 was largely about me achieving lifetime goals and becoming more and more independent, it has ended with me moving back in with my parents. I promise, it’s for a good reason, but I still feel like I’ve stepped back in time. As of next week I will be living in my old room, driving to my old high school every day for student teaching, and my social life will primarily consist of hanging out with my youngest brother, Tweedle-Dum. And, since hubby is across the world still working his job, I’ll be celibate. So, basically it’s high school all over again.

I’ve had quite a few years now to spread my wings and become my own adult-like person, so I’m honestly unsure how this is all going to play out. Even though I’m living at home again, I know I’m not a kid anymore, and that is sure to result in some tension.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 8, 2014 9:13 pm

    Yep, I think SB’s Britney Spears quote sums it up. I think we’re all basically adults, but with a bit of a child’s heart still. And that’s how it should be!

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