It’s No Cliché – A Possible Overshare

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s a weird thing to say. Not because getting older scares me or because I have been dreading the day, but because I am uncomfortable with the idea of celebrating the day I was born in a public way. I wasn’t even sure I was going to mention it all. That kind of attention isn’t always something I enjoy. But I am bringing it up because the entire concept of turning twenty-nine is something I have been ruminating over.

“You were never a baby,” spoke my grandmother once, many, many years ago.

It didn’t sound like a compliment.

I was thirteen and hopelessly self-conscious. Any hint of criticism sent me down into the depths of despair. I don’t think my grandmother expected how much those words would stick in my brain. How much I would take them to heart. I saw my early maturity as a failing, something to be ashamed of, but at the same time, something I was just going to have to bear. My personal cross. I was never a baby, never young enough, never innocent enough, never cute enough. As such, it was my responsibility to take care of my younger sister. My duty to look out for others and take on tasks beyond my years. No whining aloud. No shenanigans. Complaining and mistake-making were only allowed for children.

However, at the same time, the older I got, the less mature I felt. At seventeen, I would look around at my fellow classmates and feel years behind. They all seemed so much more experienced at life. I had barely done anything other than homework. Five years later, at twenty-two, I felt even less prepared for the world. Sure and I had a university degree, it was time for me to go out and get a real job, but I wasn’t sure I had even mastered the art of tying my shoelaces.

For the longest time this quote from my favourite novel-writer, Margaret Atwood, resonated deeply.

“Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” (via)

The first time – the only time – I ever felt more experienced than others my age was at a Christmas party, circa 2004. A friend of mine had invited me to a gathering at her house for the holidays. She was the only one there I knew as the others she invited she knew from the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Religious groups weren’t my usual crowd. (As if I had a crowd.) As I am a nice person and had no other plans, I agreed to attend.

Now, it’s not as if my friends were particularly hard-core. But we were twenty-one. In Alberta, eighteen is the age of majority. While none of us were partiers, we had still been fully initiated in the rites of the university student. So initiated the bar scene was pretty much played out for us. Not so for my fellow party guests. It took about twenty minutes for me to realise just how un-initiated the others all were. For the first time in my life, I was the sophisticated one.

It was bizarre.

My friend had prepared two separate punch bowls. One without added flavour, and one with a little something just for the two of us. She didn’t tell the others about the second special punch until later in the night. But even when the secret slipped, I don’t think the innocent IVCF group even got it. One of the guys was about to take a sip from my friend’s glass and she pulled it away with a laugh, saying he wouldn’t like it.

“Awww,” he pouted. “But I want some special punch. Aren’t I special enough?”

Again, not that consumption of alcohol is what denotes adulthood, but for the first time I felt more knowledgeable. In a way, almost superior. After a lifetime of never feeling remotely equal, it was pretty exhilarating. The next day, of course, I was back to feeling like my old inferior self. Yet the memory never left.

The reason I am babbling about all this is because I think I am finally there. For the first time, I really do feel like a bill-paying, card-carrying adult. And have done so for a while. It kind of sneaks up on you doesn’t it? I can’t say when it started. Last year? The year before? Not sure. It has taken most of my twenties to get here. It may not even look like it from the outside.

My furniture still doesn’t match. I own more t-shirts and jeans than business suits. I still barely take the effort to tie my shoelaces. But inside, I know. I present myself in a different way. I approach other adults and expect them to see me as an equal, whether they are older or younger. I don’t feel like I am faking it. Each and every day, I get up and take on that world*, even if it is the last thing I want to do.

I’m not a kid anymore.

Thank dog.

Inspiration for this line and the title of this post came from an ancient song of the forgotten Canadian band, The Pursuit of Happiness: “I’m An Adult Now.” Bonus points to anyone who has ever even heard of it before.

35 thoughts on “It’s No Cliché – A Possible Overshare

  1. I love hearing from people when they recognize they’re truly an adult. For me, it was realizing that I knew just which container would fit all the leftovers without spilling over. Dumb, I know. But I always thought that was the essence of adult, practical knowledge.

    From one “old at 13” to another, I’ll just say it’s never too late to recover your childhood. And to make it much more fun than it was the first time around. It sounds like Shiva does that for you.

    A few years ago, I started doing “childish” things again. I took up comic books in a big way. I bought coloring books and crayons. I started doing different kinds of puzzles. I took up kayaking and bicycling. I didn’t worry so much about appearing smart or the fact that I never went to grad school for history.

    I think this desire to be more childish is why I don’t often post on serious matters at Something Wagging. I ponder Michael Vick, and breed discrimination, and sled dogs being slaughtered. But I just can’t put myself in a place to write about it much. And luckily, there are many more passionate and talented people out there telling the stories already.

    Thanks for sharing such a thought-provoking post.

    Like

  2. Happy Birthday! I think we all spend most of our teens and 20’s figuring out where we belong and who the heck we are!

    I tell lots of “almost 30’s” that your 30’s will be WAY better than your 20’s! Mostly because you come to terms with your sense of self, and you can finally celebrate yourself!

    Jury is still out on how I feel about the 40’s….so far so good.

    Like

  3. Happy Birthday from another February baby! It’s funny how people feel differently about their ‘special’ day. I had a very rough first marriage, almost nine years. When that ended I was in my mid-30s, decided to start having some fun in my life and take care of me for a change (ok, at least some of the time 😉 ) And while I still celebrate my birthday with my husband, kids, and dogs I no longer celebrate a ‘number’…often times when asked my age I’m hard pressed to actually remember what it is!

    Like

  4. Dang! I had written a whole big comment out about how I commiserate with you but then it got erased…! Ah well.

    Very thought provoking post and it takes guts to put it all out there like you did…that was a very “adult thing” to do! 🙂

    Like

  5. I know exactly how you feel about never having grown up. I still dress in jeans and sweatshirts, never had a “career” (just some crappy jobs along the way), never really left school… Even having three kids doesn’t make me feel like an adult, especially when we all watch TV and play Wii together. We bought our first house four years ago, I don’t own a proper bedroom set, the linen all has holes, and our living room couch is a futon. Meanwhile, everyone I graduated high school with are doctors, lawyers, dentists, engineers, and other assorted professionals. I have more education and less money than anyone (except the two Ph.Ds in the group).

    I try to enjoy my “freedom” as my husband builds his company, but it weighs very heavily on me. I feel like I’m not contributing. But my kids (if you’ll allow me to brag a little) are amazing, I’m writing again after 20 years, and one day my friend who works at Holt’s (Kristine knows what that is!) will take me shopping (though not at Holt’s).

    And Kristine– when you say Margaret Laurence is your favourite writer– we’ll talk. 🙂

    Like

  6. Happy Birthday! And here’s to no longer faking it! (Margaret Atwood is a favorite of mine as well, and I know well the quote you mentioned. I felt like that for years myself – and the truth is, I think everybody does, or did at one point.)

    Like

  7. as your elder of two years and two months, i will tell you: i started feeling totally comfortable in my skin somewhere between 28 and 30. i just went on a weekend camping trip with a bunch of friends for one friend’s 30th, and i was far from the only one there who said that 30 was the best year yet.

    Like

  8. I did a lot of growing up in my 30’s. Although 29 into 30 was sort of hard for me. OK, it was a shock. But once that happened, the rest was easy. It’s funny, though. I feel the same way as you do, sort of a fake adult. But there are things I am responsible for that other adults can’t handle. Like a pack of 2nd hand dogs. Everyone of them was tossed out by someone who couldn’t handle the responsibility. I think you’re so level-headed that you can get through anything, and are an old soul with a young heart. 🙂 Happy birthday!

    Like

  9. Happy Birthday! I’m 24, and I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like an adult, even though I work in an office, in a cubicle and regularly have to use phrases like “credit sales” and “lapsed card study.” I totally always feel like I am faking it. It’s actually one of the reasons I always feel weird eating in fancy restaurants, too. Like someone will all of a sudden notice there is this twenty-something imposter in there, trying to con her way into some yummy soup.

    Like

  10. Maybe what your grandmother meant was you never got the chance to be a baby, to be a child. You had to take on the role of looking after siblings, which an adult should have been doing.

    I am 48 and I only really felt ‘grown up’ when I hit 30:)

    Like

  11. I understand it well. One side of me has always been an adult, the other continues to kick and scream against it — and I’m 45. My furniture still doesn’t match and most likely never will (and I’m O.K. with that) and I continue to wear jeans to the great dismay of all around me who are dressed far better. And it’s all good, because it’s all me.

    Happy Birthday!

    Like

  12. MayzieMom here. Weirdly, at 43, I still have moments of, “WHOA! I’m a GROWN-UP! How did THAT happen?” I still look at other women my age and don’t see them as my age but as much older women with lots more experience than I have. Ha!

    But I just have to say – I LOVE being a grown-up. Truly. In fact, I just told my husband that the other day. (He’s used to random ruminations from me.) I love taking care of my house and paying my bills and planning vacations and doing other “mundane” adult stuff. I love knowing that I’m in control of my life and that most of what happens in my life (good or bad) is due to the choices I make.

    I remember 29 being a very hard birthday for me. But 30 was a cinch. Probably because I had gone through the whole “OMG! My 20s are over and what have I accomplished and now I have to tell people I’m in my THIRTIES! OMG!” And I promise you that when you DO get to your 30s, you are going to love it. So many of those insecurities fall away and you really finally “get” who you are. It’s truly a lovely time (or at least it was for me). So when you DO hit the big 3-0, think of all that you have to look forward to and not what you have to let go of.

    Sorry for rambling. Great post! And happy birthday (a day early)!

    Amber

    Like

  13. This is a great post and I can relate to all of it, including my own uncannily similar first experience of feeling mature, or at least more knowledgeable, than some peers.

    I’m 27, and I can’t say that I feel like a bonafide card-carrying adult yet, but I’ve definitely noticed lately that I feel like I’m much better at pretending in my diguise. Near-certainty of adulthood comes when talking with “kids” still in their early 20s – maybe it doesn’t make me feel like an adult per se, but the maturity difference is clear and it certainly makes me wonder where the last decade went.

    Happy (early) Birthday!

    Like

  14. I’m 56 years old and most times I still think everyone 18 and over is older than me! That’s sad in a way but it’s also good:) And I still live in jeans, sweatshirts and T-shirts! Have the best birthday yet, Kristine:)

    Like

  15. First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you have an amazing day… I can so relate to this post….I was an only child, and when I was a kid, I was always surrounded by adults. Even my cousins were all at least 15 years older than me. I always found myself in adult conversations at a young age. I never really felt like a kid…. Then when I was 14 my dad passed away… what remained of my childhood died, the day he died… It was extremely hard to grow up, and finish high school when a parent dies… I sort of “dropped out” of everything except school. I didnt go out with friends, I didn’t date. I was there in body only. As high school ended, and college began, I had to work pretty much FT to pay for school. There was no time for fun. When I hit my early twenties, I felt that I was so “immature” because I missed out on so much of that teenage fun… I became very socially insecure… That all ended in my mid twenties, and that is when I feel I really grew up… HAPPY birthday again!

    Like

  16. Happy Birthday! I often felt as though I had arrived late to the party and missed the part when directions were give out. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on and how to behave except me. Now I realize that many others probably didn’t have a clue either and now I’m not really interested in the rules anyway.

    Like

  17. Happy early birthday! I’m 38 and I really still don’t feel like a “grown-up” Sure I have a house, have been living with Sean for 13 years etc, but the grown-up thing still eludes me.

    Like

  18. Are you kidding? You are FREAKING ADORABLE. 🙂

    I am 32 years old, I own exactly one suit and I insist on wearing jeans to every meeting I can. I don’t know what that means. I just thought I would tell you that.

    Wishing you a fantastic, wonderful birthday full of the SPECIAL PUNCH.

    Like

  19. Happy Birthday! Year 29 was a great year for me. It was the year I got married.

    I know what you mean about being grown up before your time. I am still learning how to be an adult and be a kid at the same time. lol It’s a fun balance.

    Hope you have a wonderful “adult” day and be sure to blow out all the candles and act as silly as you want! 🙂 I’m sure Shiva won’t mind.

    Like

  20. Happy Birthday!!!
    I’m the eldest girl at home but my two younger sisters are more adultish than I’m and most people think they are my sisters due to their sizes (Oops!), personalities, the ways they talk and the ways they deal things with. I was annoyed in the beginning as how could they be my older sisters as I’m THE oldest one.
    When I look back , I think I was just being silly. I’m having my birthday in three weeks’ time and I’m heading to mid 40s! I’m proud that I’m still young, innocent, caring and healthy!
    Have a fabulous day and enjoy it, the present and the future!!!

    Like

  21. Happy birthday dear Kristine, from someone who’s from a completely different generation! I enjoyed reading about your early maturity and late found childhood. I saw a commercial once, that was about how great life would be if only we had the experience and knowledge of our mature years while we were young, strong and energetic enough to use it. It’s the irony of life, but what makes it challenging and interesting!

    I hope you have A Very Excellent Day, Ms T, filled with all the things and people that make you happy, and life worthwhile.

    A big hug xox, Georgia’s human.

    Like

  22. I hear you, girlfriend! And happy birthday!! I think everyone has different moments where they finally feel like an adult…but I’m like you, I think it’s snuck up on me. Maybe somewhere around when my BFF and I started talking about her buying a house and interest rates, etc. 😉

    Like

  23. Your posts are always so honest and eloquently written, I often feel I don’t have the language to do them justice. Though this reminded me a lot of a forward that was circulating the web a couple of years ago about the quarter life crisis. I don’t know if you saw it, but it just seemed to fit me to a T: at that point in my life I had no idea where I was going, and I just felt so stuck and so un-adult. But somehow it did sneak up on me and I feel like I have so much under control now and every year and every birthday just brings on something else amazing.

    Like

  24. Darn, haven’t heard that song but Margaret Atwood is a favorite of mine and that quote resonates with me as well. I think there must be time that we all feel inadequate or immature. I know I do at times. I my head if I picture my real self she is much younger than my actual age and has a different voice (I hate my voice… well not hate but not that fond of it). I am always a wee bit shocked when I see photos or here recording of myself.
    I hope you had a nice Birthday and that you are coming into your self. You are truly an inspiration to me here on your Blog in many ways : )

    Like

  25. I hope you enjoyed your birthday! It’s a natural time to reflect and evaluate where you are in life. I turned 39 in January. I’m kind of already dreading my next birthday, but then I think of young people who are no longer with us, and I cherish each day I’ve been given. I wish you many healthy and happy days ahead! Enjoy!!

    Like

  26. Happy belated birthday! I hope you enjoyed yourself.
    Reading your post made me think about how I feel a bit awkward because I look like a teenage kid and very few people take me seriously when they see me. It’s hard to not feel ok in your own skin, not alright with your age or social background. Don’t feel any less than who you are, trying to fit in can do that to you and it’s not fair.

    Like

  27. I love this post, mostly because I’m a few months of my 27th birthday and I know exactly how you feel!

    Today we received a Stylish Blogger Award. I love your blog and we would love to pass this award on to you! Check out our blogpost for today! 🙂

    Like

  28. Pingback: A Stylish Blogger Award? Pour Moi? Merci beaucoup! | Kol's Notes

Comments are closed.