Season Five, Episode One: The Essay (2005-2015)

I turn 30 tomorrow.

I don’t exactly know how I feel about this. I keep wondering where the past ten years have gone, and I simultaneously feel as if I haven’t grown at all and like I am an old woman trapped inside the body of a 29 year old. My twenties were tumultuous to say the least–I became a single mother at 20, I had my heart shattered twice, lost friends who I thought would be around forever, gained new friends who are like family, changed jobs a few times, moved out on my own, struggled with an eating disorder, and am now somewhat content with where I am currently at. I like to think the first decade of your adult life really isn’t even about being an adult. How can you possibly be an adult when you don’t even really know what you want yet in life? I remember when I was in high school, thinking that I had my life all figured out–I wanted to move to NYC, live in a chic itty bitty apartment, bartend at night and go to NYU during the day and major in journalism…write witty and vaguely acerbic fiction based loosely upon my life in the Big Apple, and then somehow make it big as a writer and then singer. Naturally I hadn’t quite learned yet that life typically does not follow the timeline and plans that we create. I got pregnant literally right after prom (I always joke that I got knocked up during prom weekend), became a mom at 19. I tried college, but my head wasn’t in the right place and I didn’t take it seriously. I screwed up my grades and when I tried to go back at 20/21, I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket and kept changing my mind about my major. Being a glamorous and clever New Yorker went out the window once I had my son. I suddenly was expected to be an adult when I wasn’t even sure I was an adult yet.

But I think being confused and realizing that you can’t live up to all the crazy expectations that we made as kids is a pretty common feeling when you are in your mid-twenties. I still don’t feel like I’ve got my shit together. I’m not good with money. I hate domestic house shit. I don’t fold laundry and put it away. I wash dishes with a clear sense of loathing. I make questionable school lunches. BUT I have a 401(k). Whenever shit goes south, I remind people that hey, I have a 401(k) so I must be adulting at an acceptable level. (It’s not even at the default 3% either, it’s at like 9% so suck it haters.) I’ve only ever had three jobs, which is either a sign that I’m reliable or something, or it’s a sign that I develop Stockholm syndrome pretty quickly. I kind of pay some of my bills on time and I do an okay job at grocery shopping. I buy yogurt that is trendy and hip and very low in sugar but high in protein. I read The New York Times and The Washington Post and talk about current events. I go to the gym and pretend that I like to run, but I really hate it and prefer the stationary bike so that I can watch Amy Schumer and pretend to ride majestically over tall mountain peaks. I sometimes post witty things on Twitter, even though I’m still not completely sure what Twitter is all about. I have a LinkedIn page that I never use but made because I heard it was an adult thing to do.

I wear sweatpants a lot and don’t wear makeup when I’m not at work because I’m not 19-24 anymore and don’t feel like the world is going to end because I did not put mascara on before going to CVS. I pretty much only wear eyeshadow when I make plans to go get drunk–which basically means that I go out with my friends, nurse one or two drinks all night long, and then proceed to make sure none of them kill anyone else or end up in jail. I’m so over hangovers and spending half the day slumped over the toilet bowl or puking in my shower. I’ve developed a general disdain for people that I’m not friends with because I have learned over the past ten years that you don’t have to like everybody, so I limit the list of people I like down to the ones who like me already. Making new friends is exhausting and I like to limit the activities that wear me out physically, emotionally, or mentally. I don’t pretend to like things that I don’t like anymore. I don’t hide my dislike of anything “lite”, “light”, “diet”, or “fat/sugar free”. I like food and I’m going to eat it in all its fatty, sugary, caloric laden glory. I drink whole milk because I like it. I still live for the sprinkled up sugar cookie madness that is the McDonald’s holiday pie every December.

I’m super single and I’m okay with that. I get my needs taken care of, but I’m not actively searching for a gentleman lover (haha I love using that phrase because it just sounds like something an old lady named Edna would use in describing her love life) to fill the void in my empty and meaningless life.  I do feel a bit of a twinge of something when I scroll through my Facebook news feed and see photos of engagement rings and weddings and new babies…but then I remember that I have a 10 year old who is pretty awesome and I don’t ever want to get married, so I drink some wine and go watch a Vine about thug cats. Seriously though, I have learned that men are no longer a priority in my life. I have been single for a good chunk of my twenties, and for the first part of the decade, I remember feeling trapped and panicked and hopeless and lonely because I was alone and all my friends were getting engaged and then married. I felt like maybe I was a failure because I hadn’t met my Prince Charming who would sweep me off my feet and give me my happily ever after. I learned that no one can give you your happily ever after but yourself. I can make myself happy, I don’t need a man to make that emotion possible. I have been unlucky in love, but I have learned some pretty amazing things about myself along the way. I have learned that I am strong, that I have standards for myself, that I am not desperate, and that I have both self-respect and know the value of my self-worth. I have learned that even the most beautiful of men can be pigs, and that people will say and do anything to get what they want from another human being. I have learned that life goes on, you do meet someone else, and you fall in love again–it’s a guaranteed part of life that stays on repeat. I’m in no rush to settle down, I don’t plan on getting married, and I am proud of my independence. If I want that brand new Kate Spade purse, I can go out and buy that new Kate Spade purse. I don’t need to rely on anyone but myself and it’s an amazing feeling.

I feel prettier now than I did ten years ago. I remember reading an article saying that women are at their most beautiful between the ages of like 34-36 or something (it was an old Allure article) and so I’m looking forward to seeing if that’s true. I finally grew into my face, and thanks to me learning about skin care, I finally got this acne nonsense under control. I am more comfortable with my body and it’s curves and my face that is quite the mix of ethnicities. I still have those days though where I look in the mirror and wish that I was exceptionally gorgeous, that my face was a little slimmer, a little more soft, a little more delicate, a little more feminine, that my skin was clear and less oily, that my eyebrows were more fuller and didn‘t betray the over plucked trend that we all followed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I wish that my nose was more slender when I smiled, that I didn’t have my mother’s strong and vaguely masculine facial structure, that I was the kind of girl that people stopped and stared at because she was that beautiful. But I have also learned that I shouldn’t care, because beauty is overrated. Mixed race kids are beautiful in their own ways because we are a fabulous blending of nationalities–my face is like the goddamn U.N.  And the oily skin that I hate so much is actually helping to slow the ravages of time, so I guess I can learn to hate it less.

All in all, I keep hearing from my old ass friends (love you guys) who have already turned 30 that it’s actually not that bad. They say that their thirties were their best decade so far and that there is less pressure from society for you to be a productive adult because they already assume that either you are good at being a grown up or you’re a lost cause. You become more comfortable in your own skin because you realize that there are people who are going to like you and people who just aren’t, and there’s honestly nothing you can do to change their opinion of you. I’m down with a decade of giving zero fucks after this emotional hot mess of the last ten years! I’m actually pretty happy with who I am and where I’m at, and I can only assume that there’s some room for self-improvement. I don’t need to be sad about not being that super trendy and funny New Yorker who drinks Starbucks in Central Park and writes super successful witty and vaguely acerbic fiction based loosely upon my life in the Big Apple, because I can be that writer from Cleveland who drinks Starbucks at Edgewater Park and writes super successful witty and vaguely acerbic fiction based loosely upon my life in the Big Plum (a nickname I still don’t fully understand). I just need to get off my ass and stop procrastinating.

So…bring it on, 30. I have a 401(k) and I’m ready.

  

(Me at 20 and at 29–literally taken today.)

Season Four, Episode Two: Memory Lane

My high school reunion is on Friday.  Like…this Friday.  I still can’t believe I’ve been out of high school for ten years–it’s mind boggling.  I certainly don’t feel like it’s been ten years.

Well…that’s a lie.  High school feels like a lifetime and a half ago.

I’m sure that everyone feels that way when they are in their late twenties.  My glory days weren’t in high school–I’m not really sure what their start date actually will be, but I am trying to make the steps to ensure that they do happen.  I feel sorry for the people who shone brilliantly in high school, like a comet that streaked through the sky, only to have never reached that level of brilliance ever again after senior year.

I was not that person.

(I was the girl who had a kid at 19, the girl who grew up infinitely faster than all my friends who beer ponged and keg standed the rest of their teenage years away.  I have no regrets though, and even if I did, those days have long since passed.  I’m probably much more awesome now than I was as a snarky, bitchy, witty teenager.)

I graduated in 2004.

2004.

Jude Law was named Sexiest Man Alive by People, Britney Spears wasn’t crazy yet, my jeans were low rise and were slightly flared instead of skinny.  We were all watching the last season of Friends and everyone was shakin’ it like a Polaroid picture to “Hey Ya!” by Outkast.  I attended Saint Joseph Academy, the only all-girl Catholic high school in the city.  I spent my days in green and blue plaid skirts and white polos.  It was a simpler time.  Only a few of my friends had cell phones, and they were clunky and awkward looking compared to today’s smartphones–I remember they were only allowed to use them during the day for emergencies(eww minutes!), and we could call if we wanted after 7 pm, when it was unlimited free talk.  No one texted at the level we do now.  If you wanted to listen to music you used a Sony DiscMan, not an iPod.  Those weren’t around yet!

I can’t believe I was 18 ten years ago.

I mean, I still pretty much look the same, but...man.  Ten years!

I mean, I still pretty much look the same, but…man. Ten years!

I suppose high school reunions aren’t the same for my generation like they were for my mom and dad.  Thanks to Facebook we can creep our fellow former classmates on the daily.  We see posts of the stuff they have accomplished, pictures of their kids, updates about their lives–we don’t have to wait ten years to find out the dirt on everyone.

It should still be fun though :).

Season Three, Episode Nine: Marriage, Unicorns, and Me

Two friends of mine got married today.  I didn’t go to the wedding because I had to work, but also because weddings give me anxiety.

I know, I’m an asshole.

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I’ve always been averse to  marriage.  I guess I just rebelled against the idea that good little girls grew up and got married and had babies and were good wives and mothers and that’s all that society wanted from them.  I was always the girl who was the nonconformist, the one who marched to the beat of her own drum.  I wanted to be respected and to be known for more than being just some guy’s wife.  Mrs. So-And-So, like my own name didn’t matter anymore.  The idea of being a Mr. and Mrs. Blahblahblah and losing the ability to be identified by my own last name freaked me out.

im not lonely

Disney, however, gave me the inner confliction of being someone’s happily-ever-after and so in a way I wanted all that marriage crap.  I wanted to be loved and have someone who wanted to spend the rest of their life with me.  In fact, all the way up until I was 20 I thought that I would fall hopelessly in love with the first guy I fell in love with and he would be The One and I would get married and BAM, happily ever after achieved.  End level, character power up and max score bonus.  Easy peasy, right?

WRONG.

Got my heart broken by my first “love”.  Got knocked up and left to be a single mom.  Got up after a few years of inner healing and got back in the game.  I’ve never been a huge dater and can count my boyfriends on a single hand.  Dating and all the shit that comes with it just never appealed to me.  I guess I’m not the average girl.  I don’t know.  But I do know that I hadn’t found anyone that I wanted to spend the rest of my time on this planet with–and that I wasn’t buying into society’s shit about finding “The One” because it seemed like they thought they found The One and it turned out that they were The One Right Now But Not Really.  You married someone and then got divorced and got married again and repeated the cycle as many times as you fell in love, thought you found your soul mate, fucked up, and started again.  It seemed like a very expensive and painful way to date.  Like a really unnecessary iOS.

love is stupid

And for some reason, I’ve always tended to gravitate towards older guys.  Maybe it’s because my mom and dad are twenty years apart and made it work for the past thirty.  Maybe it’s because I thought perhaps older guys had their shit together.  I’m starting to think that maybe I’m wrong and maybe they’re as impossibly fucked up as the 28 and 29 year old guys that surround me on a daily basis.  Maybe the older guys I dated are just out of the norm and are fucked up–like a defected version of an adult…or maybe as I’m getting older I’m seeing that we never leave behind our younger selves with all our quirks and fucked up-ness and immaturity.  Maybe.  I mean, I dated a guy fifteen years older than me and he’s as fucked up as my friend who just turned 29 last month.  Maybe.

Weddings make me sad because they make me realize that I can’t keep it together in the way that society expects me to.  I can’t keep a boyfriend, and the last guy I dated had me over the moon and completely and totally head-over-heels…like I finally saw myself maybe marrying someone.  And what happens?  Oh, you know…he just goes back to the ex-wife he was never really over who really really resembles me–and she lives a state away and he lives eight streets from me.  I make them want someone six hundred miles away.  Just the typical, usual, fucked up shit that happens in my life.  If it wasn’t so comical, I think I would be really sad a lot of the time.  Weddings make me think that maybe I’m just not capable of finding someone who wants to be with me and doesn’t use me as a pale imitation of The One that they never fully let go of.  I think I make them want to go back to the The One They Never Fully Let Go Of.  And then they put a ring on it again and spend the rest of their lives with that stupid person, while I sit around pretending I’m okay even though I’m secretly, quietly wondering what the hell is wrong with me.  Le sigh.

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I had a player at the casino today say, “You’re so nice.  Why don’t you have a ring on your finger?”  Well, Random Nice Player Guy, I am nice.  I’m pretty damn awesome.  But being nice and being awesome doesn’t mean that I need to enter into an expensive and potentially lifetime agreement with a guy, you know?  I don’t think a band of precious metal and a rock measures my worth as a human being.  I’d like to have a guy come up to me and be like, “You are pretty and funny and smart and awesome and wonderful and quirky and you are perfect just the way you are and I would be honored if you would like to share your awesome life with me.”  Just.  Like.  That.  No crazy baggage or brokenness or hangups or issues or fucked up-ness.  Just a great awesome guy who is hot and funny and smart and isn’t hung up on their last girlfriend or ex-wife or someone they dated ten years ago.  Maybe that guy doesn’t exist.  He sounds a lot like a unicorn.  Covered in hot pink glitter.

Yup.

Yup.

Weddings make me measure up my own failures as a human being with an imperfect heart and I don’t like the way I feel when I think about marriage or weddings…it makes me feel inadequate and unable to relate.  I guess I’m pretty certain I’m just going to end up alone, a spinster lady who can’t knit or sew and is allergic to cats.

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Congrats to my two friends.  I wish them many years of happiness and that this is the only marriage they participate in.  Have tons of kids and cookies and anniversaries and grow old together and all that sappy wonderful jazz that they talk about a lot in greeting cardsGood luck!

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Season Three, Episode Four: Queen Bees, Mean Girls, and AM Minds in an FM World

Before you read any further, I suggest you click the video below.  It will set the tone of this post…plus I really like this song right now and I wanted to share it.

Okay.

As some of you may know, I am 28.  I graduated from high school in 2004.  For those of you who aren’t mathematical geniuses, that was roughly ten years ago.  Recently it seems like I just woke up one day and stepped out of bed and into the plot of my very own teenage drama on The WB (Does anyone remember The WB?  It was the big sister of The CW…pretty much the same audience, but it was in the late ’90s and had less supernatural elements and more teenage angst.), complete with heartache and confusion and angst.  Stupid angst.

So much teenage angst.

So much teenage angst.  Michigan J. was a frog full of drama.

I suddenly care about what people think about me and if I am invited out places and if people like me.  I haven’t done that in ages.  It’s like I went back in time to 2000 and suddenly I’m 14/15 again and doubting every single thing that I do or say.  I feel awkward and like I don’t fit in.  I’m starting to question who I’m friends with and if they are really my friends or if we are just friends based on convenience.  I worry if people genuinely like me or if I’m just that girl who they invite to certain things because they feel like they have to.  I am constantly hyper aware of everything I do and say and think.  It’s honestly like I am back at St. Joe’s and it’s my freshman year and I want everyone to like me.  I feel like I should be wearing a bunch of black eyeliner, straighten my hair, and pout a lot, a la Avril Lavigne circa “Complicated”/2002.

She looks so misunderstood...but that eyeliner is flawlessly 2002.

She looks so misunderstood…but that eyeliner is flawless.

I want no part of it.

High school wasn’t particularly terrible, but I struggled a lot with myself on the inside, as all of us did.  I felt like I didn’t fit in, but I think I did a pretty good job of pretending like I did.  I was skilled at smiling when acceptable, laughing when necessary, and saying the right thing so that people liked me.  I had plenty of friends and was well-adjusted and liked.  You would have never guessed that I felt alone a lot of the time and that my thoughts weren’t on the same frequency as everyone else–that I had an AM mind in a FM world.  I felt like I thought about stuff that the average teenager didn’t think about and struggled with things that a lot of the girls at my exclusive, all-girl Catholic high school didn’t deal with–I had a lot of anxiety and stress.  My dad was still drinking very heavily and gambling heavily and was rapidly becoming more and more physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive by the day.  We were also getting poorer by the day–my entire freshman year we didn’t have a home phone and we used the pay phone on the corner to make phone calls (I did a really good job of making light of the situation and cracking jokes about it to try to hide my embarrassment).  We didn’t drive.  I struggled with an eating disorder all four years of high school.  I had to keep everything that was going on at home inside.  All of that made me feel like I was older than my peers in a way, that I was more mature than most of them were at our age.  I felt like an old woman at times…but I was good at pretending.  I cracked jokes and was loud and funny to try to hide the fact that I had incredibly thin skin and was constantly afraid that no one liked me or wanted to be my friend.  I worried all the time that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t preoccupied with makeup or boys or clothes or the latest trends as much as my friends were.

I had my son at 19 and that made me grow up even more.  I didn’t go away to college, so I didn’t have the four years of drunken debauchery that most of my peers did.  Because of my dad (who has been sober for nearly 8 years), drinking never really appealed to me anyway, and even though I am outgoing, large parties fill me with a kind of social anxiety that I have never understood.  The older I got, the more I figured that none of that mattered once you were an adult because you were an adult and left all that childishness behind.

But I have realized that it is actually the opposite.  You never leave high school behind because that is where we found ourselves and started to carve out our identities.  I read something where it was speculated that we physically grow up, but mentally we are forever intrinsically who we were back in high school.  Adults still have cliques and gossip and show off around certain people.  The mean girls never leave the cattiness and bitchiness behind.  They still have to be the center of attention and brag about how “bad” they are.  The claws still come out, they still try to intimidate others and make them doubt themselves.  The nerds are still as awkward as they were as teenagers.  People like me still feel like they don’t fit in with the world and that perhaps they aren’t supposed to fit in.  I have always found it strange that I can be surrounded by groups of people and still feel alone.  I’m extroverted but painfully introverted at the same time.  My skin is still ridiculously thin.  I still struggle with an eating disorder.  We all suffer from self-doubt and self-esteem issues and a lack of self-confidence and crushing self-consciousness.  We all have a desperate desire to fit in and be accepted by our peers.  We like to pretend that it went away after we graduated from high school and became adults because we don’t want to admit that most of us are just physically older versions of our teenage selves, because if we did, does that mean that we never really grew up?  That opens a whole can of existential worms.  If we never really grew up, does that mean that our parents never really grew up?  That they feel the same way we do about life?  That they are just physically older versions of their teenage selves who have just gotten really good at hiding their insecurities and fuck ups?  Do they worry about the same things we do on a daily basis?

We all miss high school on some level because even though there were cliques and drama and endless teenage bullshit, deep down…we were all equals.  We were all kids trying to find ourselves and find our places in the world.  And in all honesty…we are still all just kids trying to find ourselves and find our places in the world.  And even though going to the bar on my off days and getting drunk doesn’t appeal to me, I just want to know that my friends thought about me enough to want to include me in their plans.  I don’t want to feel like I’m an afterthought and that I’m the odd one out.  I don’t like feeling like I’m not included because no one wants me to be.  I don’t like this do they/don’t they internal struggle.  I’m tired of feeling 16 when I just turned 28.

That’s quite enough, Dawson.  Can we change the channel?

“Your clothes are soaked and you don’t know where to go / So drop your chin and take yourself back home / And roll out your maps and papers / Find out your hiding places again…”–Lorde, “The Love Club”

Season Three, Episode Two: Auld Lang Syne

I have been trying to figure out for weeks a suitable post to tie up all the frayed and broken ends of 2013 and usher in 2014, but I have had the worst case of writer’s block.

I blame it on 2013 itself.

It was, for the most part, a terrible year. My boyfriend finally moved here, which I thought would be awesome and fantastic, something I wanted for an entire year…but we broke up. He’s currently working things out with his ex-wife, and I’m still nursing a broken heart and how I must be Good Luck Chuck for divorced guys (this is the second time this has happened to me…the first was with my son’s dad). I’ve been having a hard time healing. I’m not going to go into it.

My son had a rough year too. We discovered he has ADHD and quite possibly dyslexia. Add that to the stress of the previous paragraph…and I think I’m struggling with a touch of depression. I won’t go into specifics, but yeah…I think I have depression. Just a little.

Hence the writer’s block. But I came upon this Tweet from Khloé Kardashian, not particularly known as being a wellspring of philosophical knowledge, and it was perfect.

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I know that based on the hashtags, she was referring to fitness, but to me…it sums up everything. 2013 was garbage. I’m a vastly different person than I was in 2012. Broken. Cried out. Still in love with someone who doesn’t want me…Still reeling from losing someone who was my best friend and the love of my life. But 2014 shows I’m a slightly different person than 2013 left me. Am I still ravaged? Definitely. But I’m hopeful. My heart will heal eventually, even though I don’t want it to. I don’t want to say goodbye, but I have to. I have to swallow the pain and unanswered questions and bury the love that I have because it’s over. Unfortunately. And I’m sure I’ll go through this all over again. And again. And each time it will hurt just as bad as the last because life doesn’t get easier…you just get stronger. And I guess that’s life.

So fuck you, 2013.

2014…please just be better.

Season Two, Episode Five: Of Quarterlife Crises and New Starts

I turned 27 this past December.  At the end of the year, I will be 28.

And in 2015, I will be 30.

I know it sounds stupid, but the thought of turning 30 never really was one that I entertained myself with.  I was always busy with the hopes and dreams that I had in my teens and early twenties, always thinking of where I would be by 30.  It seemed like a magical age that I’d reach in what seemed like decades–at 17, 30 seemed like light years away.  I had so many things that I wanted to do and see “when I grew up”…I’ll share a few with you:

*Graduate from college

*Have a fabulous career where I make lots of money and am happy

*Become a singer on the side and become famous

*Fall in love with someone who loves me for me

*Get married and stay married

*Have kids

*Travel the world

*Move to NYC and live a wonderfully trendy and fabulous life that everyone back in Cleveland would be envious of

*Write a novel and get it published and have it sell very successfully…and hopefully write a few more that have the same success

*Buy a beautiful house to live in with my husband and kids

*Be happy and content

High school Me, the end of sophomore year, 2002.

High school Me, the end of sophomore year, 2002.

I guess I’ve attained a few of those things, but for the most part I have not.  I’m not married.  I don’t live in NYC.  I rent a house with my beautiful and funny son.  I’ve traveled to a few places, but certainly not the world–more or less the eastern half of the United States and a bit of Canada.  I have never finished a single story I have written, so I very well haven’t had a novel published.  I haven’t even finished my freshman year of college…or become a famous singer.  I suppose I have a lot of time to achieve these goals and dreams, but all this dreaming of the future all these years reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite novels, Looking for Alaska:

“Jesus, I’m not going to be one of those people who sits around talking about what they’re gonna do.  I’m just going to do it.  Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia…You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it.  You just use the future to escape the present.”

Alaska was so right.  You spend all of your teenage years dreaming about what you’re going to do after high school, and then you spend your college years thinking about what you are going to do after college…and then when plans don’t go the way you wanted them to, you think up a new future to try to strive toward, but you actually never achieve all the things you’ve planned.  You spend so much time dreaming about what you are going to do/be when you grow up that when you actually grow up, all your expectations don’t get met the way you planned and your dream life is yanked out from under you.  I think that usually you start to realize that life isn’t going to be everything you hoped when you are in your mid-twenties.  You aren’t going to achieve all your dreams and holy shit, you’re an actual fucking adult.  It’s weird to think of myself as an adult.  I’ve never really thought about that until recently.  I mean…I know that I’m an adult.  I became a legal adult at 18.  But in the actual physical/mental sense…it’s weird.

I guess I was forced to become an adult when I had Nicky at 19, but even though I worked full time to support him as a single mom, I wasn’t an actual real adult, in the sense of the word.  I still lived at home, still relied on my parents for a ton of things.  But one could also argue that living on your own doesn’t make you an adult either.  I think it’s just the sum of the parts that you experience over time that become the whole…like the heartache and the growing pains and the separation anxiety and the ripping off of the metaphorical Band-Aid of Life and the new beginnings and the jobs you love and the jobs you hate and the friends you make and the ones you leave behind and falling in love and just every little thing that you go through that shapes you into who you are that makes you an adult.  You are constantly always growing up.  I think that becoming an adult is a life-long, ever-changing process–you are never fully “grown up”.  You never fully stop experiencing life until the day you die.

I’ve also realized that I am growing older.  I’m aging.  I will one day die.  It’s a scary thing to think of…it’s scary to think that this body that has carried me through 27 years of bumps and scrapes and fabulous memories is slowly falling apart.  I looked in the mirror the other day and noticed that I am beginning to get fine lines under my eyes.  I have a sunspot from my many years of disregarding the use of sunscreen as a youth…I always read about sun damage as a teenager and wasn’t worried because that happened to “old people”.  Well, Stupid Teenage Lashawn, I am not old and I’ve had this stupid sunspot since I was 25.  I’ve been trying to lighten it with over the counter stuff, but I think I will eventually get Fraxel to remove it.  I’m starting to pay for the sins that I made out of ignorance as a teenager.  I’m getting a few gray hairs.  I get tired more easily than I did when I was 17.  I’m beginning to realize that I am not invincible, I am not immortal.  I don’t get a “do over”.  There is no reset button.  I can’t rewind back and try to change the things I did, the mistakes I made.  I’m realizing that my parents are getting older.  My dad will be 70 next year, my mom 50.  They won’t be around forever.  It’s terrifying to think of them growing old.  I can’t imagine them dying, and I know that it is a reality that I will face in the next quarter century, possibly sooner.  There’s nothing I can do to stop any of this from happening.  I can’t press pause and slow life down.  Time goes forward, constantly pressing onward, with or without me.

But even through all of the fears and where the hell am I going and what the hell am I doing, there is happiness.  My son is growing up.  We live on our own.  I’ve fallen on my face and gotten back up again.  I’ve had my heart broken by men who didn’t deserve it, and it made me stronger.  I’ve felt incredibly lonely.  I’ve been surrounded by my family.  I have loved with all my heart and made friends with people who I truly care about.  I have a job I enjoy.  I am happy with my small successes.  I am still hopeful that I will make some kind of positive impact on the world, even if it is just a small one.

But I still don’t know what I want or where exactly I’m going or what I intend to do with the rest of my life.  I don’t have any of the answers.  Ask me again when I’m 30.  Maybe I’ll have an idea then.

“I rent a room and I fill the spaces with / Wood in places to make it feel like home / But all I feel’s alone / It might be a quarter life crisis / Or just the stirring in my soul / Either way I wonder sometimes / About the outcome / Of a still verdictless life

Am I living it right? / Am I living it right? / Am I living it right? / Why, why, Georgia, why?”

                                                                                                          –“Why Georgia”, John Mayer

Season One, Episode Six: Through The Looking Glass

I was on the site 20 Something Bloggers earlier, and one blogger, Andrea Regueria, posted in one forum a great topic to blog about–writing your teenage self a letter.  I did a lot of stupid stuff towards the end of my teen years–goofing off my junior and senior years, failing a few classes that I had no business failing, not walking with my class, getting pregnant at 18 and becoming a mom at 19, getting dumped by Nicky’s idiot father at 20, failing horribly at two (count them, two!) universities and ultimately losing financial aid at both schools–some of which made me into the person that I am today, the rest just stuff that I wish I could go back in time and kick my teenage ass over.  Instead of writing a letter, which would be too time consuming, and let’s face it, Teenage Me wouldn’t have bothered to read it because I thought I knew every damn thing back then, I am going to give Teenage Me just a little advice and a heads up on the consequences that lurk ahead in the years to come.

Christ...This is probably from between 2002 and 2004, making me anywhere from 16 to 18. I'm leaning more towards 16, but anyway, I'm the girl in the middle. I look pretty much exactly the same.

*You won’t believe me now, you won’t see it until you’re about 25, but you are absolutely beautiful.  I know you think you are ugly and you want plastic surgery on the nose you think is too big and you hate your high forehead and all your curves and features that don’t exactly blend in with all your friends, but you are so, so beautiful.  I wish you would see it for yourself at 16 because that would stem the tide of bad decisions that you make in the next few years.

*Don’t worry so much about having a boyfriend.  You’ll learn that you’re completely fine without one.  I know you think you are a loser because you haven’t been kissed yet, but you aren’t a loser.  You aren’t ugly or hideous or gross.  You just go to an all girls’ school and you are insanely sheltered.  In a year’s time, you will kiss a stupid boy at Burger King who just wants to get in your pants and since you won’t give it up, pretty much ignores you forever.  You won’t even like him.  You will feel like an idiot, and I wish that you would listen to Jari, but I know you think that there is something wrong with you if you don’t kiss him.  Please don’t kiss him.  Save that kiss for someone who deserves it.  That kiss leads to a long line of stupid mistakes with guys that you still will have a hard time with when you are nearly 26.

*School is so important.  So much more important that the kids you are going to meet at Burger King, the same kids that you try to fit in so badly with because they think you are stuck up because you go to a Catholic school and this Burger King thing is the first time in your life that you feel like you don’t exactly fit in at all.  Don’t blow your 3.5 GPA over these kids.  It’s not worth it.  You are going to screw up so bad in the next two years and everything you worked for since Kindergarten is going to go down the drain.  You never get to join NHS, you never get to graduate with honors.  Remember that you wanted to graduate with honors.  Please, please do your homework and get up and go to class.  And please stop thinking your SJA friends are lame.  They are not lame.  They all go on to four year universities while you become a teen mom who is struggling to pay her bills.  And 10 years from now you will be a receptionist who makes $10.25 an hour and is still a freshman in college.  Please just focus on school.

*You have no idea how much that postcard from Yale will still mean to you at 25.

*Stop being such a bitch.  You will regret some of the things you did and the way you treated people when you lay in bed at night years and years down the road.

*After you get pregnant, which you will do because you will become a mom to the most beautiful and amazing boy you’ll ever lay eyes upon, please just ditch his dad and do it alone.  Because you are going to do it alone anyway, and it’s easier to get rid of him before you talk yourself into falling in love with him.  You can do better, please remember that you are beautiful and you can do so much better than him.  Please don’t waste two years of your life on him.  It will take you years to finally let go and you will never trust a man with your heart ever again.  And if you don’t let go of him after you get pregnant, please don’t take him back.  He leaves you when Nicholas is 10 months old.

*Follow your dreams.  Try to become a singer.  Keep writing those stories and poems.  Don’t ever give up.

I’m sure there’s more that I could say, but I think that I covered the things that matter the most.  I think I might do another episode before my birthday in December, but please feel free to share a few things you’d share with yourself if you could 🙂

XOXO