(In my last post, I mentioned that I’d be blogging biweekly. Although I just posted a week ago, I decided I’d get a jumpstart and write this week too.)
(Should you start a post with parentheses?)
So the other day, I took this quiz on BuzzFeed which, through a series of questions about my social life and lifestyle, determined that my actual age is 35. (For anybody who doesn’t know…that number isn’t even close to the real one.) And you know what? It made a lot of sense. I’ve always felt older than I actually am. 35 sounds like a nice, solid age to me: your career has been established, you’re probably married and have kids if that’s what you want, and maybe life is a little more certain than in it is in your twenties.
Then I went out to a club with my friends, to celebrate the start of the semester, and oof. While I love to dance and dress up and enjoy a big party as much as anyone else…drinking excessively and being pressed against strange bodies is just not my thing. Never has been. As I was battling the crush of people claiming their coats at the end of the night, I heard a fellow senior say, “I’m too old for this (crap).” And I was inclined to agree.
For a second I thought, well that’s lame. I’m in my twenties! I’m a college senior! I should be enjoying this. Right? Isn’t that what twentysomethings do??
So then that got me thinking, as I often have lately, about this thing that we call our “twenties,” or being a “twentysomething.” It used to be that you finished up whatever schooling you were lucky enough to achieve, usually right around the age of 20, give or take a few years. Then you got your job, you got married, you started having kids, and ta-da! Life progressed. People went more or less from adolescence straight into adulthood, and nobody (as far as I know) made a big deal of it.
Now it’s become a kind of cultural phenomenon to be in your twenties. Just look at websites like BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog. We roll our eyes at teenagers, up until the age of 21, thinking that we know so much more than them. Because you know, you accumulate so much wisdom once you cross over into a new decade, and even more so once you can legally purchase and consume alcohol. (Sarcasm, friends.) But then pop culture- in my eyes anyways- has started to tell us that it’s normal and typical to kind of flounder about cluelessly, fluctuating between being a kid and being a grown-up, until suddenly somebody flips a magic switch when we turn 30 or get married and have a baby, whichever comes first.
So what gives? What happened? Since when did we get an extra ten years to figure things out? Was it because of college? And then the bigger and bigger need for a master’s degree? Was it when people started getting married later? When the job market started changing and the US became a services-based rather than manufacturing economy?
On the one hand, I’m not complaining about the fact that I don’t need to have everything ready to go, right this second. I mean, there’s a few things I need to get together in the next four months. But it’s nice that I don’t need to be worrying about homemaking and childbearing at this point, or be staring down the possibility of being an old maid. It’s nice to have some time.
On the other hand, I don’t like being in limbo. I haven’t started watching it yet, but from what I gather, I don’t think I’d like to be any of the characters in HBO’s GIRLS. The freedom and the sense of possibility are pretty cool, but there are also moments where I’d just like to jump from one step to the next and bypass the in between. I’ve written several times before about how transition and I are not the best of friends. In that sense, it’d be nice if someone did flip a switch one day and bam- you’re an adult! Or if one day you wake up and look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Yes. I am grown up.”
That’s just not what growing up is like, though. I think it’s more like Katniss coming up the tunnel in the Hunger Games- more like Catching Fire, actually, where she’s freaking out and suddenly she surfaces and has ten seconds and then she’s racing through the water and trying to reach the supplies without getting killed. Yeah. It’s like that, but without the killing.
Maybe I’m buying into the twentysomething thing just by blogging about it. Or maybe I should stop writing about it, and learn to enjoy it. Because, you know, once you turn 30, you have responsibilities and life is suddenly a lot less fun.