At 21, the scariest thing I could imagine was being single at 30. Now at 31, the scariest thing I can imagine is being 21 again.
Obviously, 31 is the new 21. Pretty much none of us are in the "place" we thought we'd be by this age. And that's fine. I mean what did 14-year-old me know about life anyway? I like this place. This place is pretty cool and it comes with wine and traveling and yummy restaurants.
There are, however, many unsavory things about this 30-something life that I can't shake off. Like toilet paper stuck to the shoe of my life.
1) Public transit: I had dreams of bopping around town in my cute, albeit child friendly Honda Civic, forever. Rifling through my giant bag to produce a transit card or like, cash was a practice I couldn't wait to retire. No more dealing with the sights and smells of the subway and the bus system, I was going to move on, on four wheels of my own.
Now of course I prefer public transit, considering it a more environmentally responsible way to get from A to B. Whether or not that's true I have no idea so if I'm totally wrong here please illuminate me in the comments. The inherent weirdness of traveling in public has now become something of a romance for me. The unpredictability, the community aspect, I like it. But when the N is unexpectedly running express and then the next 6 train isn't arriving for 12 minutes, I sweat, complain, and miss my car.
2) Paying rent: Wasn't I supposed to own a house by now? Wasn't I supposed to have things like a garage, a mailbox, and a backyard for my inevitable dog? What happened?
As I get older and the student loan overlords have their way with me, I realize I'll probably never own a home. Then I remember I'll never have to insure a home, repair a home, or be tied down to a home, and I start to feel (a little) better. But I really want a dog.
3) Needing help from my parents: Shouldn't I be able to handle "the big stuff" by now? This is the first year since I left home that I bought my own plane ticket to Texas for Thanksgiving. And I did it with frequent flyer miles. I wouldn't be sitting in my apartment in Brooklyn writing this right now if they hadn't helped me move into it. (Broker fees are a new thing for me -- yipes).
I know my parents are happy to be able to help me out when things get scary and I appreciate them dearly for it. The really scary thought? When am I going to be able to handle the scary stuff for kids of my own?
4) Laundry with quarters. FML.
5) Fearing the doctor: It's not like going to the doctor is a week in Turks and Caicos or anything, but it's really not that bad. My adult, logical brain tells me to quiet my inner procrastinator and just go. My inner pansy ass avoids all situations where I might hear bad news. Trying to reconcile the two is like herding cats into a laundry basket. Wasn't I supposed to become more mature and responsible with age, rather than turning into an avoider? Don't even get me started on the dentist.
6) Dating: At 21, the scariest thing I could imagine was being single at 30. Now at 31, the scariest thing I can imagine is being 21 again. Times change.
But, srsly though, enough of this shit. I'm running out of things in common with my friends. I don't know what a squinkle is (it's a teething toy -- thanks, Google), I don't know the cost of chair rental for weddings, and I have absolutely no idea what it's like to renovate a kitchen. It's like they've moved on to the next level of Super Mario Bros and I'm still searching for a magic whistle while getting fire balls spit at me.
7) Covering gray: Eeeeeeew! I'm not one of those girls who thinks dyeing your hair gray on purpose is trendy or even attractive. I'm never going to "go gray gracefully." I'm going to claw kicking and screaming for the last box of brown hair dye in Walgreens. Call me uncool if you like, I hate gray hair. I hate it. Hate.
I remember my mother doing this when I was little, but she was like, a grown up then! How is this already happening? How are these weasel-like strands invading my world? Banish them!
8) Working for someone: By my 30s, I was to be a self-employed author, penning books from the little office in the house I owned with my baby sleeping upstairs and my husband outside washing our car. There is literally no component of that that's happening now. I have a job (that I love), working for other people and a few side hustles that I enjoy. Maybe the dream is just delayed?
Or maybe I'm not special. Maybe everyone works for someone else and I should just shut up and get to work. Via the subway.
9) Hangovers: Oh, good grief. The irony of not being able to drink once you're old enough to really afford to is just a horror. Why did the unfathomable swill of college days slide down easy as Jello (shots), but now the craft cocktail I paid $14 for gives me a headache that keeps me in bed until 1pm?
I used to drink out of bottles with handles for crying out loud! We mixed cocktails in construction coolers and wheeled beer into parties in suitcases. Now that kind of volume would put me in hospital.
Moreover, I'm not supposed to be partying anymore, right? I was supposed to grow out of that! Getting drunk isn't something that happens anymore. A bottle of wine shared among friends at a civilized dinner party. That's drinking, right? Excuse me while I go cry into my expertly shaken Aviation served in a mason jar.
10) Being happy to be 30-something: Here's the big one. I thought I'd feel old by now. I thought I'd be "over" by now. Having accomplished all the big stuff, I wouldn't have anything to look forward to. Boy, am I glad that was a total crock of shit.
I can say with 100% confidence that the best is yet to come, and that kind of potential is so exciting to me. I know now that I'm never really "finished," and certainly not in my 30s. The 30s are when things actually get good. I have more good going on than bad (finally), and even though it doesn't look the way I thought it would, the view is one that I like. I like a lot of things about getting older, learning more, and doing all the wonderful things a "grown up" can do. Except maybe laundry.