For much of my life, I felt like I was the wrong age, or born in the wrong year, or just not the same as people my age. I would avoid telling people my age and relished the times that my grandparents’ near-blind friends asked my sixteen-year-old self if I was in college.
As I got a bit older and began undergoing the maturation discovery phase that is college and early adult life, I found myself acting like most people my age. I joined a sorority, shook off a lot of inhibitions (and gained some back, thankfully, after graduation), and began learning the balance of caring for myself and having a really great and memorable life. There were plenty of times I felt “mature,” probably due to the perceived independence of being on a campus and not in your parents’ home. But there would be spans of time when I would be a near-hermit, get really thrown into scheduling my part-time job, internship, and school and would avoid my social life. During these times, I almost felt estranged from my peers. This isn’t their doing at all: it was mine. I couldn’t reconcile having fun with being responsible.
Fast forward to today. I think I can officially say that while I’ve certainly not perfected my balance, I’m absolutely the closest I’ve ever been. Here’s a snapshot of what I’ve learned makes me comfortable:
- My one-bedroom apartment is kept clean and tidy. For the most part, this is by doing small things regularly — not one big clean-up on occasion.
- I put my financial health very high on the priority list. This has been the biggest struggle for me, surprisingly. Historically I’ve been very financially savvy and disciplined, but since my cost of living is so enormous in the Bay Area, I’m learning to dial down my “fun budget” to keep me happy.
- My cat actually gets the attention he deserves, including lots of cuddles and actually cleaning his litter box. (I can’t believe I only did this once a week or so when he was little. Poor guy.) It’s little, but it’s got huge payoff.
- I’m in a really, really good relationship that makes me want to keep myself happy in all other regards so I can keep the relationship happy.
- Exercise is an absolute necessity to manage my anxiety. If I don’t exercise, anxiety reduces my productivity and makes me less rational and generally sends me into an unhealthy snowball-effect.
- Thanks to a year with the best therapist in the world, I know a lot of “triggers” that set off my anxiety, including little things like being tired and getting overheated.
Age DGAF-er now
And now, for the first time in my life, as I’m just a few weeks away from my 26th birthday, I’ve noticed that I no longer am quite as afraid to share my age. Part of that is because at a certain point age difference is not much of a factor when relating to others. A bigger part of my newfound age-acceptance, though, is knowing that exactly who I am is exactly right for me. I always felt like I wasn’t in the right skin from an age perspective, and instead of fighting the uphill battle of being the “right” age, I am the right me. At times I’m a little boring now. I don’t care. I love it. It’s perfect.