Issue #2: I Have the PowerFebruary 19th, 2012 by Claire
I have the power.
Why does everyone start calling themselves ‘old’ as soon as they hit twenty-one? As soon as you’re legal in the drinking world the party’s over?
Everyone out there is whining about age, calling themselves old, but still trying to stuff themselves into twelve-inch Homecoming dresses from the teeny-bopper section of Macy’s. What gives?
Did you know our brains don’t physically mature until our mid-twenties? Our frontal lobes are still developing until about age twenty-five. Oh man… as a teen who was still finding entertainment value in He-Man and Legos, you have no idea how excited my inner monologue was to hear that. (“Claire, there’s still hope for you! Yesss…! Maybe you’ll grow up one day, after all!”)
So, everyone around me is wailing, “Agh, I’m so old! A quarter-century, it’s all down hill from here– My body’s starting to break down, I can feel it! I wish I was back in my prime… Time to resign myself to a settled, domestic life of ‘wake up, go to work, come home, have a beer, fall asleep… Because that’s what old people do. Stay up past midnight on a work night?! What are you… a teenager?” And all the while I’m slapping them upside the backs of their heads with, “Idiots! Get a hold of yourselves… Our lives are just beginning! Our bodies have just barely become all that they were meant to be. Your mind is finally an adult– it’s finally yours. It’s time to figure out what you want in this world and then go out and achieve it!”
You’re not wholly yourself until you’re at least twenty-five, and yet people are already turning in the towel.
So then I realized… Maybe some of the people around me in their mid-twenties are old. I know that it echoes of ‘mid-life crisis’ to say that “your age is only a state of mind,” but to an extent that saying holds true. If you tell yourself something long enough, you’ll start to believe it. If you begin to see yourself as past your prime, that’s likely what you will become. And it seems like more and more of the people around me have resigned themselves to the idea that they have already witnessed their great, enjoyable, adventurous years, and it’s time to turn themselves out to pasture into boring, mundane responsibility for the rest of their days.
Responsibility really doesn’t have to be mundane.
Writing for this column is a responsibility… and it’s anything but mundane.
But there’s also another part to this outlook on adulthood. I was never the girl who rushed off to experience “all the things that grown-ups do” when I was still a kid. I never jumped into the middle school relationship or the exploratory sophomore binge-drinking party. I never went to school in a tube top/miniskirt combo, and I never slipped off with my friends to go smoke pot in the back lot after our B block class. I never adopted curse words to replace all my prepositions, and I never had sex– not even just to see what it was like. I guess I was just never in a hurry to “grow up”. Why rush through everything all at once? Why desensitize yourself in a few swift years? I always felt like there would be plenty of time for all of the grown-up things later. You know… when I was actually a grown-up. And there is. I still have a plethora of new experiences to anticipate and no need to rush.
Yes, the real world is tough. Some days may be better than others, but nothing is out of reach. Success requires effort– real effort– and if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be worth it. I’m still so excited for my future. There’s still so much to do, so much to learn, and so much to see. I took care to pace myself and I’m still going strong. The only difference between now and then is that my head is finally on straight. I can think clearly with a trustworthy sense of judgment. I’m able to fathom action, reaction and consequence. I think before I act. I’m much less likely to put myself in a dangerous situation, and I’m much less liable to make decisions I’ll regret later. I’m able to picture myself with a much more accurate sense of the world and how I fit within it. And I’m free.
Is there no one else that thinks this is great?
As far as I can tell, there’s really only one true difference between fifteen and twenty-five: At fifteen you’re old enough to begin fathoming your dreams, but at twenty-five you’re finally old enough to start making them happen.
Of course… you can still enjoy all that silly, not-so-grown-up stuff too. Seriously, it’s okay. You don’t have to be ashamed. Last weekend my friend and I stayed up until three in the morning eating chocolate and watching He-Man. We laughed until we cried. It’s the best of both worlds.