The most unexpected part of being a grown-up is how little I feel grown up. My life does not in the slightest resemble the one I imagined for myself (well, except for the handsome husband part––shout-out to Mike!). Although Happily Ever After does not exist, I keep chasing it down, believing that once I’m “there,” then I’ll finally be a grown-up.

When I was a girl, I was seven going on 40. Or an old soul, as some call it. I could not wait to grow up, so I could be free. Free to travel the world, free to do what I liked without permission, free to drive to the beach if I felt like it or eat as many Oreos as I wanted.

My mother constantly had to remind me to enjoy childhood, that it was such a short time, and just wait until you’re an adult and you have to go to work and clean the house.

In the way children do, I retorted that I would grow up to like my work, that I would have a maid to clean the house for me while I went to my fabulous job (which at the time would have been a writer or a professional pianist, depending on which day you asked me. Because those two jobs do not fall under the category of “starving artist” at all). I could bat back all her protestations with the skill of a champion debater, not merely a stubborn child.

“What if you’re not rich?” she would ask.

“Oh, I will be,” I retorted. There was no deterring me.

What I didn’t count on was the feeling of life not measuring up to my overblown, childish expectations. Sure, they tempered as I got older; I no longer thought I’d be wealthy. But I still thought I could design my own life. If I followed the rules, the step-by-step guidelines for How to Be Successful, then I would end up in Happily Ever After Land, complete with sparkly unicorns and castle with a moat. Or at least an apartment in a city I loved, teaching Lit classes and traveling during the summers.

Christmas Unicorn

What I didn’t count on were the small but effective prisons of adulthood. The dollars I have earned did not go very far, and they are harder and harder to come by. The career I trained for isn’t an economic reality anymore. The depression I had as a child is more complex now, all neuroses with anxiety-ridden limbs flailing around and bumping into the furniture of my life. The sleeves of Oreos I ate now reside permanently around my hips, and the wine I can’t drink taunts me from the pulpit of pop culture every day.

My life as an adult has consisted of catapulting from one catastrophe to the next. Basically scrambling for purchase every time the floor crumbles from beneath me.

I need to recharge. I need to recenter. To reconsider my goals. Mostly I just need a break from the unending stress of looking for work. I’ll be camping all next week, somewhere where there are no cell phones, no Internet, no distractions, no pressure.

This camping trip could not have come at a better time. I don’t expect to come back with the answers. But hopefully I will come back remembering how to breathe.

cast

Look at this face. *Of course* I was going to be rich.

Finish the Sentence Friday
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Comments

I Am Not A Grown-Up — 68 Comments

  1. I could have written this post. Like you, I was an adult way before my time. But, as an adult, life has been difficult to master. I hope your camping trip gives you what you’re looking for. I will be thinking of you jealously from my ice-encrusted abode! πŸ™‚
    Suzanne recently posted…It’s Not YouMy Profile

  2. Dreams do come true but in small doses. You’re already a writer about the pianist part I don’t know, if you play it and regularly practice you can achieve that too. About being wealthy either you already are or on your way to become one.So there I’ve predicted your future.

  3. Cute picture! Broken bones won’t stop this girl!

    Being grown up isn’t what I expected either. Hang in there, and have a fabulous time camping! I was in the mountains a few weekends ago, and it was nice to get away from technology and just enjoy the world.
    Ericamos recently posted…New BeginningsMy Profile

  4. Yeah I don’t often feel like a grownup, either and it’s very different from what I’d imagined that it’d be. I think your camping trip with no phones or internet sounds amazing – in fact, it makes me think of childhood when the internet and cell phones did not even exist, and we’d go for 2 weeks every summer. Enjoy yourself, and I hope that you find peace and easy breathing. Also, it’s like asscold here, so I’m jealous that it’s warm enough to go camping!!!
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…You will love your retarded baby (and we don’t say retarded anymore)My Profile

  5. It’s amazing what a break can do when life is so stressful. So I wish you a wonderful trip.
    My adult life hasn’t taken me where I thought it would. I’ve failed many times and the route of my life is different from the direction I started three decades ago.
    I wouldn’t trade it for anything- I am exactly where I am meant to be.
    Thank you for sharing. I’m sure many of us can relate to your words.
    Pam Huggins recently posted…HOPE YOU DON’T NOTICE MY MOVEMy Profile

  6. Very, VERY relatable for me. This is exactly what my very first post was about. This very idea is what got me started blogging. And the rest is history so they say…

    I must say though, your words are much better put together than those streaming thoughts I published last year.

    I really enjoyed reading this. (:
    Dawn recently posted…Southern-Fried Yankee.My Profile

  7. Looking for a job is up there with the hardest, most soul-destroying work there is. πŸ™ I started feeling grown up and as if life was finally beginning in earnest (no more scrabbling from one catastrophe to the next) at precisely and coincidentally (I think) the same time I started to feel OLD and uncool. It’s been quite annoying.
    tinsenpup recently posted…{this moment}My Profile

  8. I was the sammmmmme way. And now my kids are saying it too. “I wanna be a grown up” “I wanna drink wine and stay up late like you.” (lol!) I tell them to hang on and enjoy it but of course they don’t understand.

    I’m jealous about your camping trip! I hope you have a great time. Soooo good for the soul!
    Jen Brunett recently posted…Bob Dylan Said it BestMy Profile

  9. I’ve just started feeling like a grown up in the last couple of years (and I’m in my late 40s)! I hope you enjoy your camping trip and get a chance to relax.

  10. GET OUT OF MY HEAD. We are so alike.

    I was an old soul as a kid too, but much less of one as an “adult”. I feel like a grown up when I’m fathering but when they’re away, not at all.

    great post
    Lance recently posted…Downtown TrainMy Profile

  11. …small but effective prisons of adulthood… that is the big elephant in the room, isn’t it? That one nails it for me, I guess that is the really big truth about adulthood nobody ever mentions, but there are so many realities that imprison us, like doing the right thing just because we must, not because we particularly want to… there’s a poem muse in your post and she just crawled under the covers of my skin…
    Aisha recently posted…Photo Poem: β€œOh Cairo2,” Photo 2 of 10My Profile

    • I like that, the poem muse. πŸ™‚ I know, I did not see those realities coming. I didn’t know how much forces out of your control could hinder you. I was a little too idealistic.

  12. You have such amazing introspection skills (don’t you wish we could list THAT on our resumes?) and a way of delivering some very personal information in a way (I know, I’ve used “way” twice now in the same sentence, we’re going to blame my migraine for the lack of ability to replace it) that makes your reader feel like this is actually about them. Kudos to you, lady, and have an amazing camping trip.
    Katia recently posted…BabooshkaMy Profile

  13. I absolutely relate to this post. I had such high expectations and delusions of grandeur as a child, but my life did not turn out the way that I had expected. What I hope for now is to stop regretting my choices and be grateful for the good life that I have. Thanks for sharing!

  14. The only time I feel even remotely like an adult is when I’m parenting and have to say something incredibly mom-like. “Turn off the lights when you leave the room!” “Don’t put your face on the cat during dinner!” “Wipe your feet!” Only grown-ups care about that kind of stuff. But when it’s just me? Nope.

    Have fun camping! It sounds like exactly what you need!
    Larks recently posted…Comment on Being The Worst. by LarksMy Profile

  15. I feel like an old soul too. My mom used to say that to me – 13 going on 40. The catastrophes make you grow up faster, but they can also trap you in immaturity. I really hope that camping brings you clarity. I can’t wait to (hopefully) read about it πŸ˜€
    Gwen recently posted…NEDAwareness 2014: Breaking Up With EDMy Profile

  16. I grew up a bit of an old soul as well. I believed I’d have the wonderful, happy life where I traveled often, had a fabulous job and fabulous apartment and would later marry Prince Charming.

    What it has turned into is anything but. Life is just so complex and strange like that. I’d like to say I wouldn’t change anything but I’d be lying my ass off. There are a lot of things I’d change. Thankfully though, the regrets are few even though my past sucks and I’m paying the price for it now.
    Kim recently posted…Ten Things of Thankful: Rain & Writing MojoMy Profile

  17. I always wanted to be older so I could do my own thing. Even with all the responsibilities and stress, I wouldn’t want to be young again. I can’t stand people telling me what to do. One of my friends just told me that a few weeks ago – that I can’t stand to be told what to do. I didn’t even realize that about myself, but it’s true. Learn something new about myself all the time.

    Wow, camping sounds nice. I saw that you’re going to be disconnected all week on FB. Good for you! Hope you have a great time!
    Kate Hall recently posted…Sometimes It’s Hard to Let Things Go…Like a Good Pair of GlittensMy Profile

  18. “The small but effective prisons of adulthood” – wow, that is so well put! My daughter is a lot like you. She’s an old soul, and her biggest lament all throughout childhood was “I can’t wait to be a grown up!” She’ll be 21 in a few weeks, and she’s been living on her own since she graduated from high school, but sometimes when she calls, it’s just to let me know that “being an adult” isn’t as *fun* as she thought it was going to be ; )

    Have a great trip!
    Karen recently posted…The Stories Are in Our BloodMy Profile

  19. At first I thought it would be finding a job that would make me feel like an adult. And then getting married. And then buying a house. And then. And then. But nothing ever has. My latest thing is that I’m absolute sure that becoming a parent will the thing that ushers in adulthood. I mean, it has to be something right? Happy camping!
    Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…A Spin Class And An Obsessive PersonalityMy Profile

  20. Ah yes, I remember those childhood certainties. I was going to be an uber wealthy & glamorous lawyer, like the people on L.A. Law. I would never marry or have children, but instead be focused on my career and extremely fabulous life. Yeah, so much for all of that. Hubs, kids and house poor later, this is not exactly the glamorous life I imagined. Being an adult kind of sucks.
    Misty recently posted…Just Another Day in ParadiseMy Profile

  21. So often I look at my life and wonder how it happened. I imagined being grown and it was going to be so different. And sometimes I wonder how I got here and if I really am this age.

    Very thoughtful post.
    Michelle Longo recently posted…In The Zone.My Profile

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