Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ambivalence about adulthood

Over the past few years I've learned that creeping responsibilities and maturity have hindered my more puerile preferences and tendencies, and I've taken on more and more trappings of being a functional, mature adult.  Obviously being in an committed relationship and checking off the married box on different forms gives me a greater sense of being settled, and it makes other people see me as an old married lady.  Then, there is the age thing - no way I can get around that!
Despite these labels and the outward acknowledgements of getting older and, maybe, wiser, I often struggle with the idea of adulthood and maturity.  My recent stress flare-up has everything to do with the fact that I'm "in charge" of other adults, and obviously that role seems to challenge me since I spend hours doubting my competence.  Add to that, the grey hairs that continue to spring about my head, threatening to overtake my still-glossy brunette locks (ha ha).  I often entertain the fantasy of getting in the car and leaving everything behind just so that I can be on my own.  You know, the old open road = freedom and adventure metaphor.
Over the past few days (weeks, months, years), I have spent time thinking about what the idea of being an adult means to me.  Not that there are easy answers, but I would like to say that I'm at least making choices about taking on more stress and responsibility.  No one TOLD me to take on a new position, and I knew that it would push me in different ways, and that was one of the reasons that I did want to take on the challenge.  Also, my greatest joys happen to come from the responsibilities that I have or have had.  Today, I briefly saw students who had graduated a few years ago, and even though it was a short encounter, it reminded me of why I *really, really* like this job.  And then, there are our dogs, Gus and Milo.  Talk about responsibility!  While they are not as demanding as children, they are all the children that we plan to have, and I have, to put it mildly, grown attached to them.

The boys in Santa Barbara.

A few recent purchases put into my mind the whole "adult" thing too.  On Saturday, I used a gift card and bought new work shoes.  To me, they are just sooooo middle-aged, proper, responsible and schoolmarmish.  Terrible, in other words.  Everything that I would like to reject! However, they were comfortable and not ugly, so I bought them.  I wore them today, all day, standing up, walking around, pacing back and forth, striding around, and they are great!  But, without a doubt, they make me feel OLD.  
On the other hand, we just got a new bed - our first bed purchased together as a couple after 6 years!  It is a definite upgrade for us, and I can't wait to either sleep deeply on it or toss and turn all night.  Either way, I'll feel like I've "arrived" as an adult, just because we have a new bed!  
So, there are major positives about this whole adulthood thing.  I suppose that I can trade the lack of freedom to roam for close relationships and an awesome new bed!
Obviously other people fully embrace the adult ethos without hesitation.  Perhaps I do have somewhat of a stunted emotional intelligence, OR maybe I'm honest about the ambivalence I feel about putting myself into that 'adult' box?

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