quarter-life crisis

My friend HDWL posted about getting older and white hair and the oddity of being in your late twenties. 

“When i was in the youngest in my class, i felt smart, advanced, clever. Now that i am older and have never had a full-time job (haven’t been able to find one since i graduated three years ago from my masters programme), have only tentative career goals and no financial grounding, and am approaching 30 and going grey . . . I don’t know how i feel. Odd. Not unhappy, but out of place. I am stepping into a new age group and i am not sure what it contains. What does it mean to get older?” –for the real post, go to “the next JKRowling” on the blog list.

I will turn 28 in 2006, as will my husband.

Perhaps some disclosure here. The very tipsy husband and I were talking about relationship stuff last night. We got married rather casually. I don’t say that as a slight to the relationship or the marriage, but we were very realistic about the reasons for our timing and we were as realistic as we could be about the kind of challenges we were going to face. He made the statement that, once the ink was dry on the marriage license, I started trying to turn us into what we were “supposed” to be. According to him, I analyzed what was “normal” and what my parent’s marriage had been like and charted a path for us that was neither. Also, he accuses me of giving him the smack-down whenever he tried to deviate from the path.

I fear he’s right. Not just the issue of my charted course for our marriage, but that I have a VERY strong sense of what things are supposed to be and what they are supposed to look like. My life bears very little resemblance to what I think it should be. Not that I ever had a strong concept of what pushing thirty would mean. But these are the things that I think are supposed to be in place at this point in my life:

–I should be fit with abs of steel in preparation for the day I get pregnant so that I have a better chance of “bouncing back.‿

–I should have a job that makes a difference and pays me well.

–As a corollary to the above, I think I should have enough disposable income to replace my cheap-ass makeup for makeup that I bought at Sephora, if not at the counter in Nordstrom’s. Not that I would, necessarily, but that it should be an option.

–I should have a clear picture of where I want to go professionally and a strong plan that guarantees that it is going to happen.

–I think we should be in a strong enough financial position to consider having a kid. Not that we’d be popping one out tomorrow if we could afford it, but that it should be an option.

–I/We should be pretty much debt free, with the exception of the house.

–I should be published. Which means that I should have written something that someone else wanted to publish, have sent out the thousands of submissions and gathered the thousands of rejections that go along with that.

–We should be pushing the boundaries of extraordinary.

Instead, we are tragically normal. I am not published. My makeup bag is full of makeup that costs under $10 per item. We carry consumer debt. We couldn’t afford a kid, even if we were otherwise ready. I have no idea where my career is going.  I feel like I’ve held down a series of temporary jobs and have yet to start my real professional life.  What I do during my 8 hours of work means nothing and matters to no one. My abs are most distinctly not made of steel. 

And yes, I’m getting white hair too.

And yes, I don’t like my obsession with how things are supposed to be.  Mostly because I think I’m supposed to be smarter and more iconoclastic than that. Deep-seated issue anyone?

How do you go about being an adult when you barely feel competent enough to have your drivers license? It isn’t about age, at least not for me, it’s about certainty. I’ve long associated adulthood with certainty, but I’m beginning to suspect I’ve got it backwards…  Adolescence is about certainty and adulthood is all about a growing recognition of how little there is to be certain of. Perhaps aging gracefully is just a question of learning how to remain sane as all of the things you were sure of slip away.

Is it possible to do this gracefully?

quarter-life crisis

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