I’ve been 29 for a little over a month now (actually, over a month and a half, coming up on two months alarming quickly). Which means I have fewer than 11 months left of my 20s.
This is supposed to freak me out, right? 30 is still made out to be this major milestone birthday, still for many signifying the end of youth and the beginning of the long march towards middle and then old age. Our bodies start to give out after 30, we hear — our metabolisms slow down and cruelly betray us, our brains are less elastic, we can no longer recover easily from the abuse we put ourselves through in our early 20s (I’m reluctantly starting to accept that on some nights, three beers is all it takes for me to feel slightly icky the next morning. Three. What. The. Hell).
At my cousin’s wedding a few weeks ago, the priest commented that normally, he would be reluctant to perform this marriage — he believes couples should wait until they’re at least 25 when their brains and cognitive abilities have fully developed. (My cousin and his new wife are barely 23. He went on to say that since he’s known both of them and their families for years and has watched them and their relationship grow, he has no such qualms in their case.)
When he said that, I leaned over to Husband and murmured, “He should bump that number up a bit.”
Nearly every day, a part of me still feels like I’m playing at being a grown-up. It completely boggles my mind when I think about how when my mom was my age, she had been married for six years and a mother for three already. Instead of being a Real, Responsible Grown-Up who Takes Out the Trash and Washes Dishes Every Night, I chase Onyx around the apartment and jump on the bed with her in a way I don’t associate with almost-30-year-old behavior.
But that still feels normal and natural to me. Doing grown-up things like paying bills, buying cleaning supplies instead of cute tank tops and nail polish at Target, taking Onyx to the vet, or reviewing lease agreements obviously get done, but it’s like “ugh, I have to adult today, whyyyyy, I wanna cookie…” I routinely try to figure out what to make for dinner and think “I wish Mom was still cooking dinner for me.”
My preferred wardrobe is still jeans and t-shirts (preferably with a fun graphic or humorous saying). When I worked in offices and had to wear slacks and button-downs, I never feel like me. I’m more apt to use bright neon colors on my nails and I still want sprinkles on my ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Which makes me wonder: Were my parents faking it all those years? Is being a grown-up just some grand illusion everyone puts on?
I mean, think back to when you were in grade school. At what age did you think people started being “grown-up”? 18? 21? 25? 30?
I can’t say for sure, but younger Allison definitely assumed 29-year-old Allison would be a full-fledged grown-up.
And 29-year-old Allison is still waiting for that to happen.