Tonight, out celebrating the birthday of a colleague and dear friend who is somewhere in his early-to-mid 40s (he claims to not know his exact age), we somehow got to talking about romantic relationships and what we want out of them. He admitted to knowing he was somewhat difficult to date, but claimed that for the right woman, he would amend his ways. I simply said I was still searching for a real partner -- an actual companion, an equal, someone willing to put as much energy into a relationship as I am. And after a long pause, he said, "You're really a grown-up."
And you know what? I am. And I'm fucking proud of that fact.
I don't know why it's become trendy or cool to put off adulthood and maturity for as long as possible. I confess, I am always baffled when I meet someone over the age of 30 who advertises the fact that they're still "kind of a kid." Being young at heart is fine, but perpetually avoiding responsibility and commitment is less cute. It's not even, in my opinion, entirely a gendered thing -- the man-child has become an archetype in various films and TV shows, but there are plenty of women who are guilty of the same thing. They are just less visible in pop culture.
My question is, why is it a point of pride to not grow up? (I totally feel like Carrie Bradshaw, posing this rhetorical question)
Not growing up = getting to date this douche
I have always felt like an old soul, despite my youthful appearance. And ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be a grown-up. I insisted on reading adult books even when I was too young to understand them. When I was 8, I demanded to borrow my mom's copy of Stephen King's Pet Cemetery. I think my parents were savvy enough to realize that there was no way I could comprehend the inappropriate content, so they let me nobly schlep around the heavy hardback edition and played along with the ruse that I was actually reading it. I was trying but obviously I was in over my head. So I just carried it around because it was An Adult Book and I wanted to be taken seriously as An Adult. Even though I was 8. The same thing happened with the Andromeda Strain when I was 10. I didn't want to read kids' books -- kids' books were for kids. I didn't want to be a kid or be treated like a kid.
Now I'm actually an age where I am, legally at least, supposed to be a grown-up. And the kicker is, I actually am! So it's frustrating to meet charming, intelligent men who confess/boast about being "big kids." You know what? I don't want to date a fucking kid. I'd like to date a man. Being an adult doesn't mean not having fun. I have fun all the time. I go out, I stay up late, I still get drunk sometimes. But I self-identify as an individual who is not reliant on any outside support systems (parents etc). In other words, I'm in charge of my shit and I'm the boss of me. I pay my bills, I have a job, I live in an apartment I pay for.
But it's not so much the trappings of adulthood that matter. It's psychological -- I think of myself as an adult. Someone who has experienced a lot of stuff and grown into a fully realized human being. I'm not all that nostalgic about my youth -- I'm not sad to no longer be a teenager or in my 20s. You know why? BECAUSE I GREW OUT OF THEM. I am a smarter, better person than I was then. So no, I don't wistfully long for the days of living with Craigslist roommates and eating cereal for dinner. The days when I had a fake ID that I used to buy the cheapest vodka I could find. The days when I didn't have health insurance, when I still had to ask my folks to bail me out occasionally because I accidentally miscalculated my finances and couldn't pay my rent. I don't regret my 20s, but mostly I value them for how they shaped me into the adult I am today. I would never want to live forever in them. That sounds like a nightmare.
Alas, I'm in the minority. So many people, it seems, delight in promoting how un-adult they are. It must be attractive to fellow non-adults, but me? I'm still holding out hope that I will find a man who knows who he is and what he wants in life and can appreciate what I have to offer. Because I do think I have a lot to offer. I just have yet to find someone who's smart and funny and wants to be in an adult relationship. Not a boring relationship -- a fun, dynamic relationship built on a foundation of trust, respect and love.
Time to end this post before it goes full-Oprah. But hopefully, you get the gist. Growing up is an unavoidable, normal, HEALTHY part of life. I grew up and I'm glad I did.