**I wrote this when I was 29. It’s still true.**
You know that game parents play when their baby first learns to walk? (Or, if you are like me, insert new puppy.) Mom stands on one side of the room and dad stands at the other, both calling to the baby in a rousing game of Who Does Baby Like Better? Mom stands on her side and pulls out every trick; arm waving, cookie promising, hand clapping, and kissing. Depending on the couple’s competitive nature, dad may take it up a notch, promising a paid-in-full college tuition or a new cellphone as soon as baby can talk.
The baby looks back and forth, taking a few shaky steps in each direction, chewing on the offers presented by both sides. There are three options here. Pick moms side and give up what Dad has to offer. Chose dads side and kiss those cookies buh-bye. Or, sit down in the middle of mom and dad and stress out because choosing is impossible. Literally. Both sides have some pros, some cons, and both have presented such compelling offers, how is a baby to choose just one?
Well, as it turns out, I (or anyone ages 24-
2931) am that baby. Stumbling between my parents who, for the sake of this piece, we will call Adulthood and Youth. I am standing in the middle, evaluating the perks and weighing the negatives of each side. Looking back and forth until I am dizzy. Sometimes I take a few steps in one direction, turn back around and look longingly at what I am leaving behind, let my legs collapse and sit where I was standing. At 29 31, I have yet to choose a side and very rarely make it past the center.
I spend half of my time day-dreaming about being settled in a career and caring less about trivial things. I want to be financially comfortable and eventually start a family. I want a fat 401K so I can visit my vacation home (the one in Turks and Caicos) quarterly during my retirement. With these dreams in mind I put my head down and trudge ahead, diligently on my way Adulthood. I pay my bills on time, I don’t spend on credit cards, I work a full-time job, I keep the house clean, and come home to put dinner on the table for my husband
every night most nights. Soooo adult, right? I agree and proudly take a few confident (and cautious) steps towards Adulthood.
Often though, the thought of careers, families, and that fat 401k that pull me toward Adulthood are interrupted by dreams of being wild and living in the now. Being more yolo-esque and the nagging desire to continue living carefree with only myself and Nick to worry about. And sometimes, just sometimes, I dream about swiping a credit card without the 2-day long, remorse filled pity party because Adulthood Alyssa strictly forbids frivolous spending on entertainment and has convinced Youth Alyssa that the $200 flight (that I am earning points on!!) will keep me from retirement while simultaneously leaving my future kids shaking foam cups full of pennies on the street in front of Mcdonalds. “Mom had to go to Tennessee, didn’t she?” they will say as they shake their fists at the sky while I, at the ripe age of 85, and still schlepping papers so I can pay the mortgage.
Let’s try this again..
The point I am trying to make is that often the enticing parts of Adulthood get a swift, unsuspecting sweep kick to the knees by Youth because so many parts of adulting just aren’t fun. I want to wear clothes that are not business casual. And dye my hair a plethora of unicorn colors. Rather than buy siding for a house, I want to spend my money on clothes, travel, and late nights with friends. I’m tired of keeping my house clean, and spending 40 hours a week doing something I hate in hopes that when I’m 65.5 I can do something I love. And if I’m being completely honest here, bills really freaking suck. Like..soooo bad.
When the dreams of staying wild and full of youth creep in they force me to question my previous confidence in Adulthood. I begin looking over my shoulder, slightly panicked and eventually hightail it back to Youth. I’m not ready.
The cycle is vicious. Back and forth. 401K’s vs. travel the States. Pants suits vs. miniskirts (but never REALLY pants suits..). Weekend housework vs. weekend hangovers. I am indecisive. Two versions of me are constantly battling to pick a side. I am Jekyll and I am Hyde. I am the mayor in The Nightmare before Christmas, both smiling and frowning. I am a
29 31 year old female, stuck. And some days, the days when thoughts of “but what am I supposed to be” or the questions of “When are you going to have kids” creep in, I go crazy.
Someday, maybe, (after reading books, taking notes and studying convincing PowerPoint presentations regarding the pros and cons of Adulthood vs. Youth) I will pick a side and charge it leaving the other side to eat my dust. But for now, I am the girl at the hairdresser, letting the pink dye set while I discuss my 401k, the state of politics in the United States, someone else’s kids, and my hangover.