When I Thought About Adulthood, This Is Not What I Expected

In two days I turn 28 years old.

I’m thinking about that number 28. I’m thinking about the word “adulthood” and whether or not I’ve reached it. The number sounds like it belongs in that category, but my life doesn’t really feel that way. I don’t recall exactly what I thought life would be like at 28, but I know for sure, this is not what I expected. I always thought I’d be married with kids by now. (HAHAHA.) I expected adulthood to be so organized and grown-up and filled with smart people who had the answers and knew exactly what they were doing. But I see now, adults are often lost and they don’t have it all figured out yet either. They still get shit-faced and throw up sometimes. There are still social hierarchies and corresponding dramas. They still make mistakes and are learning their way through it. My mom still encourages me to eat vegetables. And I still fantasize about my wedding day and love Disney movies. There are a lot of things that I thought would be different, that aren’t. And there are a lot of things I didn’t expect to still be doing, that I am…

I didn’t still think I’d be…

*Eating at the kids table at Thanksgiving and other family events. I am wondering at what age I will graduate to the adult table. I’m going to celebrate so hard on that day.

*Sitting on a bathroom counter in my pajamas popping zits in the mirror, or what I think could be a possible zit one day and subsequently wrecking my face.

*Calling my mom with questions when I catch a cold…(which is now just me walking into her room, you know, cause I live with my parents now…)

“Wait do I need a decongestant or an expectorant?”

*…Living with my parents.

*Taking bubble baths. Still prefer them to showers…any day.

*Borrowing all my sisters clothes.

*Still getting excited as hell when Christmas comes around.

Yes.

*Turning off my bedroom light,  running lightning fast and jumping into bed so the man underneath it can’t cut my feet.

*Getting questioned about my outfits by my mom. “You’re sure you want to wear that to dinner?”

*Talking to girls about boys and boys about girls. It’s been the same conversation since high school: girls are kind of crazy, boys are kind of dumb.

*Watching The Little Mermaid and singing “Part of Your World” really loudly. Every time.

Part of your WORRLLD!

*Giggle when any of my friends say the word penis or talk about one. It’s shameful. I know.

*Be thoroughly entertained by bubbles. (Especially if Monty is around)

Did someone say bubbles?

*Having my grandma play with my hair.

*Wondering the meaning of my life. Thought I’d have it figured it out by now..

…None of these things did I expect to be still be partaking in and/or enjoying at 28. When I was in middle school, I remember telling a friend that I wanted to be married by age 22 and having my first child at 24…basically because it just sounded good. I was 12, and stupid. But truthfully, it was an arbitrary goal anyway.  When I was young, I thought that was the meaning of life: To grow up, find a husband, and have babies. And maybe it is. Those are still things I want. I hope to marry a best friend and not blow it and I’ve always dreamed of becoming a mother. But now I see there is more to life than that. I think. I actually have no idea. I just know that right now, in this moment, it’s not my time to be a wife and mother. It’s a time for me to get healthy and stronger, to find some certainty, get to know myself a little better, trust myself a little more, and become who I am meant to be. Joseph Campbell says that “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” and I think so many things in the last year really threw my identity around and left me slowly piecing it back together, which I will continue to do. I trust that the things I want will happen in time, but I am careful not to put aside happiness while I get where I’m going. I am right here, so right here is where I should be happy. I have high hopes for 28. I never expected that at this juncture of my life I would be where I am, and in truth, this is not what I would have chosen. But the fact that I didn’t choose this, I didn’t seek it out–makes me trust it more. I was headed in a completely opposite direction, and yet here I am. It tells me something else was at work.  I am done questioning it. I am done being mad at it. I’m ready for the next chapter. Bring it on, 28!

Health, Happiness, Twenty Eight.

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26 thoughts on “When I Thought About Adulthood, This Is Not What I Expected

  1. Happy birthday! This was fun and actually kind of encouraging to read. When I was little, I used to be terrified that when I grew up I would no longer enjoy all the “kiddie” things I liked then, like Disney movies, playing Sims, and making up random hyperactive games. I’m only a teenager now, but I still love all these things and fully intend to love them all through adulthood! I guess “growing up” can be what you want it to be.

  2. Your blog was suggested to me by a friend – in short, I am also a writer, also have a blog, and my husband struggles with severe chronic pain (fibromyalgia) and fatigue. I just wanted to pop in to say that you’re funny, I love your sense or humor, and I appreciate your very real-ness. I know real-ness isn’t a word, but I have an English degree so I’m going to pretend it is. :-) Anyway, we’re the same age (I turn 28 in a little under 2 months), and while I AM married with a house, I don’t have the “kids” part…due to infertility for the last 3 years. It’s been a pretty sucky road in that department, but despite the fact that all of that has made me feel like an adult (ugh), I often reflect on how little I’ve changed since I was a kid! I love how you noted all the things from your past that remain the same – I laughed out loud at the Christmas bit (I’m the same way) – and just wanted to, you know, say that marriage and kids and all that jazz doesn’t make you an adult. You’re a damn cool lady and I’m glad I found your blog today. Happy birthday!

  3. A charming article, full of honesty and hunour and pathos. And with your vast age (ahem) comes wisdom. You are right – happiness is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you get. Now, no one would want health challenges, of course. But every life has pluses and minuses. Focus on the pluses, minute by minute, and please keep writing. You bring a smile to many faces: that should bring one to yours. Many happy returns – enjoy 28!

  4. I’ll be 28 in just over a month. My husband will be 32 in a couple of weeks. And neither one of us feels like adults. We own a house and have corporate jobs…but sometimes we forget to pay the electric bill. Sometimes we overdraw the joint account. I always felt like people my age had it together…that they knew what they were doing. But as I meet more people my own age I realize that the vast majority of us are all the same — just trying to get by in life, not really knowing what the hell we’re doing and hoping we’ll figure it out eventually.

  5. As always I find your words could just as easily have come out of my own head, Mary. My plans were grad school, engaged by 26, married at 27, first kid at 28, second by 30. Got the engagement down, then life changed everything. I find that at least once a year I have to make a really concerted effort to, in your words, decide that “I am done questioning it. I am done being mad at it. I’m ready for the next chapter.” And when I finally get myself back there I am always relieved. I’m 33 now and about to make a big change. I’m letting go of a lot of things I’ve been holding on to far too tightly for too long. A past I’ve needed to let go. I’m moving 14 hours away to Orlando, close to family and my oldest friend in the world. It’s scary and sad and exciting and fun all at the same time. It’s time. And whatever it brings my way…it’s sure not what I had expected at this point in my life, but bring it on! Happy birthday – I hope 28 treats you well!

  6. “Growing old is compulsary, Growing up is optional” :) Happy 28th, I hope you have a great day and the energy to play!

    As for not ending up where we plan, I don’t think anyone does….I sure haven’t. I never expected to be cutting my work hours right back due to poor health by 21 and having to seriously consider being unable to work before I reach 30. I am however very lucky to still be currently working enough hours to be paying off a house, and am hoping to own it by the time I am out of work, and I have a very supporting family who is helping me out any way they can.

  7. I am 26, male, and married, My wife and I just moved across the country and into a two story town house. Our second night we were upstairs and we decided it was time to call it a day. I had to be the one to go downstairs and turn off the lights. I literally ran FULL BLAST up the stairs once the downstairs became dark. I bolted into the bedroom. My wife gave me this bewildered look, then half laughed at me and said “Did you just run upstairs because you were afraid!?” Obviously she doesn’t know about the shadow people that try to sneak up and steal you from behind unless you run into the light. I think they’re related to that guy who lives under your bed and tries to cut your feet.

  8. Happy Birthday Mary! I don’t know if life ever turns out like we dream it to be when we’re kids. I also made those predictions as a young teenager. However, I did get married at 22 and had my first child at 24. (It was coincidental that it happened that way.) I ended up with 3 kids. And now 3 grand kids. But, at the age of 28, what I thought my life would be like at the ripe old age of 51, was totally off the mark. Without going into details, it got worse, then it got different, and then it got better. I’m happily remarried for 12 years, and on disability. How’d that happen? I have two daughters who are sick, too. That sucks. Life is good. Life is hard, but it’s wonderful. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m grown up yet.
    God bless! And again, happy birthday!

  9. Love this self-reflection — so telling of all the things we thought we’d do and where we end up in reality.

    We finally did away with the kids’ table, but now it’s just me and my grandpa holding down the singles’ table at family events. Super.

  10. I think that most of us with chronic health issues have thoughts and concerns similar to yours. I’m 61 and certainly not on the path that I had planned when I was in my 40′s and healthy. But it IS life. And it is MY life. I have to learn to take every day and turn it into the best day that I can, maybe looking forward to tomorrow. Maybe I’ll just be grateful for what I have….
    Sara

  11. I enjoyed this for many reasons, but mainly b/c I love the image of you sitting on the bathroom counter, excavating your face. I really like getting older (so far); I just turned 40 hahahaha WTH I’m FORTY?! But the craziest insult of all? Every once in a while, you will have concurrent zits AND wrinkles. Yep. Awesome.

  12. It never turns out the way you think it will. I planned to be starting Grad school at 25 and be interning somewhere far away from home. Instead I am at home (not too far from where I grew up) with MY child (which I said I would never have) and babysitting another child. I planned to be married, and I am, but it has been a crazy journey. I wouldn’t trade any of it though. God has given me what I needed when I needed it.

  13. The adults’ table is way overrated. Also, I’m about to turn 45 (yo, forty-freaking-FIVE!) in a couple of weeks, and i still feel mentally about 12 a lot of the time. and this is with a marriage, a kid, and an intense, full-time job. reading through this wonderful piece, though, i realized that i have grown up in some ways that make me sad. like, i don’t get as excited about Christmas anymore. i used to–and until way, way beyond childhood. probably until i was in my thirties, and then suddenly it became more of a gauntlet of chores and planning and negotiating other peoples’ expectations that i had to run vs. something magical and fun. now that i have a four year old, thankfully, some of the old joy and insane excitement has returned, finally. anyhoo, growing up is not all it’s cracked up to be, and i hope you’ll revel in your inner adolescent for as long as possible. but hey, if you do ever get to the marriage and children thing, there’s a lot to look forward to there, too. all in all, life is good. Happy Birthday!

  14. Oh girl, I didn’t think I would be divorced at 30 either! You need to learn to love where you are WHEN you are, because things DO change quickly. I was getting married at your age, and now look where I am! Kind of the same place as you, starting my life again. You should enjoy it and live it up! You get to spend time with you family without worrying about paying a ton in bills etc. You get to enjoy YOU time. So live it up and have fun!!!

  15. Aged 13 I thought it’d be great to be an adult, doing whatever the heck I wanted and no-one to complain. At 28 I was divorced, living with a 38 year old woman who had 3 sons and had screwed up my daughter! Now I realise that for every action there’s a reaction but it cost me dearly, my daughter doesn’t want to know me, I lost the best woman I’ve ever had, I’m so down on myself if it wasn’t for my son I’d end it all right now. Funny how life turns out, at 18 I didn’t want to be around after 40, here I am at 58 still making mistakes but still alive

  16. At – was it 15 or 16? – I had decided I was having one more kid than my mum had (so, 5) and I wanted to have them by the age of 25. There was, in this future fantasy which mew and a friend went quite in depth in planning, no husband, or mention of the childrens father. I had, however, published many books by that stage and other than that didn’t have a job.
    Now at 28, my plan is to start trying for a kid at 33. And maybe have my book ready to publish by then too. And own a dog!

  17. I will be 29 in two months and I feel the same way. When I was in high school and I looked at someone who is in their late 20′s I saw them as mature, smart and so grown-up. Now that I AM in my late 20′s, that is NOT how I feel. I really figured I’d have things figured out way before now. Nope. Nada. Sometimes I get frustrated and depressed about it but I am trying to look beyond that and be thankful for where I’m at today. It makes me feel better that I am not the only one who feels this way. Thanks for another awesome post! ~RaeAnn

  18. Really enjoyed your post. I think many people feel a similar way, thinking they’d have it all figured out by now. I just turned 33 this summer and while much has happened and changed in the 5 years since 28, there are still certainly a lot that has stayed the same. I’m guessing some parts of us are forever!

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