I’ve been 27 for just shy of two months. And while you live your life thinking, “Well, being X years old doesn’t feel any different than being X-1 years old,” for me, 27 is the first year that has felt even slightly different. That could be because 27 is the year that follows the end of the development of your brain’s critical thinking centers (26 is the year, for those who don’t know).* It could be because at the age of 27, you are hopefully past your “who am I!?” phase of life. For now at least. It could be because as a woman, my body has most likely stopped producing its own calcium, and my brain is saying, “if you love me, stop drinking that diet coke!” It could also be attributed to the fact I currently have a stable job that allows me to stop, and cook, and think, and read. All things that let a person prioritize the things floating around in her life. Previously I adopted the policy, “I bet my parents sure will make a noise if I am doing something wrong!” Now, while my parents are always willing to help me and advise, the decision making falls to me. And that’s terrifying.
It’s terrifying because I’m not very good at it.
Being an adult: Having a 401K.
Being a bad adult: Not really knowing what to do with a 401K. (Do I watch it? Do I just assume it’s fine? Do I talk about it at parties?)
Being an adult: Buying fish at the meat counter at the grocery store.
Being a bad adult: Not really knowing what fish I need, so picking one based on price and name-familiarity. (Man at meat counter: “What can I get you?”; Me: “TILAPIA! ALL OF THE TILAPIA!”; Man at meat counter: “Wait…what?”; Me: “Maybe just four of the tilapia.”)
Being an adult: Being in charge of car maintenance.
Being a bad adult: Googling, “what is that thing my car is dripping?”
Concerned that I’m alone in my flailing, I discussed the act of adulting with actual adults who do adult things, and it seems that the consensus is, “the rest of your life is spent guessing and hoping you guess right.” Sweet.**
I am slowly coming around to the inevitability of this accountability. My actions will come back to me, guys, and I don’t like it. At work, when I send an email that might elicit opinions (heaven forbid!), I hit send and immediately sprint out of the office, avoiding the phone calls that usually come in its wake for at least as long as it takes me to get my seventh cup of coffee. I post on the blog, and immediately shut my laptop for the next hour telling myself, “I am a good writer, right? Right…Maybe.” And, I’m already over a year into the monthly lesson in accountability- paying my students loans. Maybe if I just wrote my loan provider and said, “yes! I get it! My decisions come with consequences!” they’ll forgive the rest? That definitely seems like something they would do.
Yes, 27 feels different, but 26 hasn’t really gone anywhere. 25 tends to have opinions about where I should be, and 24 through around 18 tend to rattle around when I walk at a brisk pace. I’m still trying to get 13 to stop telling me what I’m doing wrong. For being so quiet at the time, she sure has a lot of feelings about what I’m doing now. And I’m desperate for 9 to stop singing show tunes. 27 may feel different, but maybe being a real adult is getting all those other years to sit nicely while you carry on. Instead of remembering all the times you messed up, getting the years to join forces to make educated guesses.
Currently 9 is singing “Mr. Mistoffelees” from Cats. Maybe she can sit out of the decision making.
*If my mother is reading this, see, I listen! If my mother is reading this and I have my facts wrong, I blame Wikipedia! **Do adults say “sweet”? I’m guessing yes.