In about 5 hours, I will officially be 41 years old. My God, how did that happen? I don’t feel 41. A 41-year-old is a grownup. And most days, I do not feel grown up. I mean, I have a job. With good benefits. I own a home (no yard, but it does have a two-car garage! That’s grownup-y, right?) I don’t even have a houseplant. A couple of bamboo shoots, yeah, but they’re easy to maintain.
Maybe it’s not being married, not having kids. I don’t have to negotiate with someone about whose turn it is to do the dishes or take out the garbage. I don’t have to sign the permission slip or pay the deposit for camp next year. I do pay the mortgage and change the air conditioning filter and schedule the pest control guy, which I didn’t have to do until two years ago when I bought my condo. So that qualifies me for grownup status, I think.
I also renew my own tags and get my car inspected. But I put it off until the absolute last minute and drive around in fear that a cop will notice my tags are expired and follow me to my apartment or to my trainer’s gym in a small incorporated city-within-a-city and park behind me so I can’t leave and scare me to death like I broke the law when really all I did was let my tags expire. And I can’t completely shake the feeling I used to get when my bank account was overdrawn and I had to call my mom and ask her to put more money in because I just went to the HEB on McCullough and wrote a check that will probably bounce and get me banned from shopping at the ghetto-HEB for life.
I feel like I’m still in college half the time, stupidly skipping classes and turning in papers late, falling down in my closet the first time I ever got drunk, not having the guts to tell my friend I had a crush on him, and playing “I never…” at a fraternity party and drinking even though I had really never done it.
I didn’t really live my own life. I pretended to live the life of a teenager/college student/partygoer, but I was always a little bit outside the moment, watching myself go through the motions. I often felt like an observer rather than a participant. Wishing I could be more a part of the group, completely involved in it all, but being aware that I was really on the periphery, never fully engaging.
And I still feel like that awkward, slightly overweight, guarded girl, no clue how to forge relationships or resolve conflicts. Putting up with things I shouldn’t have tolerated, inept at standing up for myself, incapable of revealing myself fully to others. Wondering what it is I’m supposed to do with my life, trying to live up to others’ expectations but setting none of my own. Wondering when it is my “real life” will start.