Careless Whisper…

Today is my birthday. As of 8:44 a.m., I crossed the mid-twenties threshold and officially became 26. And all of this aging makes me contemplate a serious question: what is a grown up?

What is being an adult? Who’s grown up? When we’re little, we can’t wait until we’re grown ups and we can do whatever we want. And when we’re grown up, we miss the days of being young when we could do whatever we want.

As a grown-up, I feel like life has kicked me around. But then life seems to generally kick everyone around. I haven’t stayed down yet, so I must have developed some kind of resiliency. I feel like the past two years of my life have been the biggest grown-up learning curve I’ve encountered yet. So does being a grown-up mean you take life’s beatings but still get back up?

As a grown-up, I frequently feel lost. About important adult issues, like jobs, money, and relationships. I feel like being a grown up means being uncertain about everything. I feel like true certainty is so fleeting, that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve truly known I was making the right decision for myself. There’s such a peace that comes from knowing you’re doing the right thing. But then I look at those things closer, and while the big picture is overwhelming, the details look pretty good. I’m happy with my job, I make enough money to cover all my bills and still have some left over for other things (which is more than I can say about last year), and my relationships are mostly all doing well. So is being a grown-up learning to appreciate the details without stressing over the big picture?

As a grown up, I’m worried I’m never going to find what I’m looking for. Because I don’t even know what I’m looking for. I don’t even feel like I can get close enough to be able to define what it is I’m looking for. But is being a grown-up spending my entire life searching for this answer, an answer I definitely don’t have  to know at 26?

So far, it feels like being an adult, at least an adult in your 20’s, means not really having any answers.

(My blog titles are song titles. “Careless Whisper” by Wham! was the #1 song of 1985, the year of my birth. This post took a bit of a somber turn, so I’m embedding a YouTube video to cheer you up. You could also check out Cake Wrecks for a laugh or two.)

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7 thoughts on “Careless Whisper…

  1. Nicole says:

    Sometimes I think being a grown up means ACTING like you have it all together, even when you don’t.

    Regardless, you don’t have to be a grownup yet (unless you want to be)! A close friend of mine stated on his 30th birthday that it was his last year of childhood. It’s 31 you need to reach to be an adult 🙂

    Happy Birthday Hilary!

  2. Gregg says:

    I can tell you that life at 31 isn’t much different. There’s still a lot of “what do I want?” and “where am I going?” The good news, however, is that the highs and lows of those concerns become less of a roller coaster and much more manageable.

  3. Courtney says:

    I’m turning 31 in exactly one week so I quite enjoyed reading your thoughts on adulthood/getting older. The weird thing is that as stressed as I was last year about turning 30, I still really don’t feel like a 30 year old in the sense that my life is still very unsettled. I have no idea what city I’ll even be living in next year, I’m surviving pay check to pay check on a grad student pittance (although getting some grants along the way has definitely helped) and completely unsure as to when I’ll be able to do things like buy a house (probably in like 10 years because the job market for history PhDs is terrible and it might take that long before I actually have a steady job). And yet, despite all that, I still feel very grown up and, dare I say it, old. I definitely think the only way to stay sane is to, as you put it, “appreciate the details without stressing over the big picture.”

    xoxo ~ Courtney
    http://sartorialsidelines.blogspot.com

  4. Barbara says:

    Yup, I remember that day as if it were yesterday. Having questions is good. It means you are curious and growing. But don’t expect to get to the point where the questions stop because they never stop. I hope your day is full of joy because that is what you share with us. Love Mama

  5. Sean Ouimet says:

    It is good to now know what the #1 song the year of my birth is (my birthday arrives later this month, and I’m also an 85’er). I had never thought to look that fact up, nor any other trivia from the year of my birth really.

    On the whole growing up thing, I don’t think one ever feels “grown up,” so I’ve given up ever expecting to feel that way. I have several friends in their 30’s (or beyond) who insist they still don’t feel like adults — and many are parents, which theoretically factors in to the stereotypical must-feel-like-an-adult-now mix.

    I agree though that it can be tricky to know what one wants. I think at this point in life we still have so many doors open and it is weird imagining closing off some of those options. We still have a lot of flexibility on where to live (both in the sense of local dwelling and city/region), travel goals, and longer-term life-style/spending/saving choices.

    Factors like relationships, deciding on when/if one wants kids, and spending/saving choices all affect the long term equation; who wants to start plugging in fixed variables if they don’t yet know what number they wish to find on the other end of the equal sign?

    But the approach of 26 is weird. At 24, I felt like I had longer in my “distant” future to decide. Oh well, life is going pretty well, even without a complete future vision. Time flies when you’re having fun 🙂

  6. Brandon Schatz says:

    You absolutely know you’ve grown up when you stop wishing people would treat you like a grown up. It’s the moment you suddenly stop having all the answers, and start having questions. It’s terrifying and horrible? But also, it’s just about the best thing ever.

    I’m going to go write about comics until 3 am now. Because I’m an adult. 🙂

  7. Paul says:

    Well, I’m 52 and it hasn’t changed all that much. Still wonder what I’ll do when (if?) I grow up. The ride sure is fun though. As a 15-year old niece said on GB recently “Bad decisions make good stories”. Upside is no need for a mid-life crisis. Nothing I feel driven to do that I didn’t do when I was younger.

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