There are certain things that I’ve always associated with being grown up. Some I’ve gotten to experience, like going to a bar for drinks and living in an apartment. There are other things I haven’t experiences, like applying for a mortgage. But for some reason, when I’m out and about and doing all the fun “grown up” things, I never feel like a “grown up”.
I had a not-so-pleasant experience this past weekend (that I will elaborate more on down below) that made me actually say “I feel like a grown up.” This is only the second time in my life that has happened, aside from times I’ve said it because I’ve been forced to wear a suit. I can remember the first time I felt like a grown up. It was almost seven years ago to the day. I even wrote about it in my old journal (in the days before I publicly broadcasted my thoughts and feelings). After I got home, I knew I was going to write about this experience and I knew I wanted to find that old journal entry. Something about the two days had seemed so similar, even though they were opposite events – a baby shower and a funeral. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone back and read an old journal entry. But I was absolutely astounded at how seventeen-year-old-me seemed to be able to verbalize things in a way I don’t think I can anymore.
Is this what it’s like to be an adult? To suddenly look around and realize how detached you are from everyone and everything? To be sitting at the grown up table talking about grown up things?
I wrote that nearly seven years ago, but it perfectly describes how I felt this past weekend. One of my friends from high school passed away last week. I hadn’t been in touch with him recently. The last time I remembered hearing from him was my birthday. He wished me a happy birthday. That was it. I didn’t take the time to ask what he was doing or what he had been up to. And even if I had, who’s to say he would have responded? But that’s not the point. There are plenty of people in my group of friends that I haven’t really kept in touch with. In fact, a large chunk of us went to Undergrad U and I was even roommates with one, but I haven’t even been in touch with those people since UU. There are a few I’m still close with, so over the weekend we carpooled to the funeral home together to do something we all probably thought we wouldn’t be doing until we were well past fifty.
Just a side note on funeral homes – they are terrible places. All of them look like they were decorated by grandmothers. I know they’re supposed to look like a home and be comforting…but they’re not. They just contribute to the awkward feeling, like you’re the guest at a house you’ve never been in before. Stop it, funeral home directors. Get rid of the flower-y wall paper and the embroidered pillows.
Everybody that I used to sit with at lunch and during football games and in finished basements was there. Nobody looked drastically different. Sure, there were some different hair styles or weight changes here and there, but there were no jaw-dropping transformations. If we were anywhere else, I swear I would have thought I had gone back in time. Everybody was dressed up, dressed even nicer than the sort of clothes we used to wear on “dress up” days in high school. People were introducing each other to their husbands and wives. They were making small talk about their new homes, their new jobs, their babies on the way. Everybody was the same but the things we were talking about were completely different. They were grown up. I didn’t know these people anymore. I even heard things I had never heard before from the friends I was still in touch with. I guess I never really asked my friend’s what exactly their jobs entailed. We all sounded so grown up.
It’s rather depressing that I associate feeling “grown up” only with negative things. Paying bills? Grown up. Attending a friend’s funeral? Grown up. I think it’s something society does as a whole. With the exception of small children that don’t yet understand the concept of responsibility, nobody wants to grow up. We make growing up sound so terrible. A friend recently complained of this, not because he had funerals to attend or bills to pay, but because he was finally finished with college classes. Other friends and family kept telling him how terrible it was out there in the “real world” and he was sick of hearing it. He was looking forward to becoming a contributing member of society.
Why don’t we believe that adults can have any fun? I’m going on a vacation with all my friends…it’s to Disney, but it’s something I would have never been able to do as a teenager! (Well, at least not unchaperoned…) Yeah, there are some shitty things about being a grown up, but there are plenty of shitty things about being a kid or a teenager and, yes, even a college student.
I’m hoping that the next time I feel like a grown up, it’s for some happy event, like…oh I don’t know. Sipping martinis at some fancy rooftop party.