I think I am very often mis-identified as an old soul. Contrary to what my high school social life may have indicated – my best friend’s parents very accurately called us “the grandmas” – I do not think I am an old soul. I know old souls, and I am not one of them. My good friend is decidedly and old soul, not just because she likes tea and is perpetually chilly, but because she always asks you about your life and manages to remember things you like or are interested in. She’s the kind of person who, after a few months of not talking, will call you up out of the blue because she saw a news story that reminded her of you and she wanted to get your opinion on it.
Another friend once told me he was an old soul, so I told him I was a young soul and that meant our internal ages canceled out, making for a perfectly balanced friendship. I’m not sure it works like that, but I think it was the first time I’d thought of myself that way, as a young soul. I’m still not convinced he’s an old soul, but he definitely has grandpa-like tendencies.
Alright, so I like to curl up with a mug of coffee and a good book. I prefer physical books to tablets. I am old-fashioned when it comes to romance. BUT. I am not old-fashioned when it comes to sexuality. I may not get married. Ever. I talk like a child. I say “false” and “def” in real-life conversation. I freak out whenever I see a dog or a baby. I am up on most social media platforms, with the exception of pinterest because it’s seems highly addictive, and why tempt fate? Plus pinterest exists for old people too, particularly those who like to do CRAFTS. Oh, and also snapchat. I don’t get it. Seems like a waste of time (okay I’m an old fart when it comes to snapchat (also my spell checker just made me make “snap chat” one word, so unsurprisingly Google knows more about snapchat than I do)). I am obsessed with staying up to date with the latest shows and movies. I think the face of television is changing and I’m really excited about it. I like to go to parks and just soak up the big open sky. I am still in awe of the night sky.
I think that thus far the majority of my life has been me trying act older than I feel, which is actually just me trying to act my age. While I am mature in a lot of ways, I’d say that I am a child at heart, which has its pros and cons. It makes working with kids really fun. I think that just like old souls can still be deliciously silly, young souls have a surprising propensity for seriousness. I mean, have you ever talked to a child? Everything is a matter of life and death; who they invite to their imaginary pony’s sleepover is no laughing matter. It is a serious thing. I think for me it’s that I’m a worrier, and I attribute this to feeling younger than I think I should. While one side of being a young soul is being care-free, the other part, for me at least, is being a worrier. Old souls don’t have to worry, they have faith everything will work out. Young souls lack the worldly experience (whether acquired or innate) that old souls possess to just chill the fuck out and let things unfold.
Old soul or not, I am pretty much convinced that everyone is walking around acting like they’ve got their shit together, when really we’re all just playing catch up.
I am so cold, why don’t I just get up and adjust the thermostat? It would be so easy, yet I continue to sit here trembling. The heat just clicked on. Maybe I’m not cold at all. I think all this catching up has caught up with me. All these emotions are welling up that aren’t even relevant to my life anymore; I’m not even sure what they mean at the moment. Maybe all will become clear in time, but for now I am caught in limbo between the past and the future. Is that just called the present? I am held in suspension between being hung up and being over it, between childhood and adulthood, between being solitary and being engaged. Whether or not I revisit old wounds deliberately they inform my future decisions, determining which paths I take and how I pack my bags for the journey. Can a broken heart be more easily transported than a whole one? Can a bruised ego survive the bumps of travelling life’s winding road? Can an inquisitive mind and a boundless soul be harnessed and contained in a carry-on? The world is so vast, how can I possibly live it all? Will my past constrict me to a narrow state of mind, especially if my experiences thus far have labeled me “open-minded”? I don’t want fear or self doubt or passiveness to convince me I am content and to keep me from living. I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid of not having lived. Everyone says I have so much time, but death creeps in when you’re not looking and time moves much faster than anyone ever expects. The present is gone in an instant and a new one rushes in to replace it. Each second is an opportunity to pull myself up by my roots and relocate, but something is keeping me grounded. Perhaps greener pastures only appear greener from far away? If I stay here much longer that pasture may disappear, whether it is green, brown, or purple. I’d take purple grass over stagnant central air any day. The heat’s clicked back off now, but I’m not shivering anymore.
I recently started reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants to, you know, get inspiration for my memoir. In it she recalls being asked during a workshop When Did You First Know You Were a Woman? Tina said that the majority of responses from the two hundred plus women at the workshop were moments “when some dude had done something nasty to them.” If I were to open that question up to all individuals, When Did You First Know You Were an Adult? I wonder what trends we would see. Not sure I’d actually want to find out because I think it would just make me sad. Men would probably have overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) positive experiences. Trans individuals would probably have very positive experiences as well, but that would not blot out a former lifetime of bad ones.
I think one of the first times I felt like an adult was when my mom came to my room after having met with a financial advisor or attorney or consultant or someone who told us we had no money and cried into my shoulder that we’d have to sell the house. There were other moments when time shifted a little around me, the day my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the day we put him in a nursing home, the day I felt my first heartbreak, the day a man I’d voted for became my president, but that day with my mom was different. It represented a loss of innocence and an increase in responsibility. One that I felt came too soon, but maybe that’s just the way life works. Maybe adulthood sneaks up on you and sets in when you’re not looking.
Then again, I am 22, I live with my mom, I enjoy Disney movies, dance breaks, ice cream, coloring books, and I work with kids. Today one of my students asked me a question, to which I responded, “This kid!” and she promptly told me “You’re not a kid!” The truth is I feel like one. And I am in many ways. I watched Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts (have you noticed most of my ideas come from pop culture?) and one of the lines that stuck with me was when Josh’s recently-retired professor/mentor confessed that “Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.” I think that’s probably true. Or at least that none of us feel as old as we thought we’d feel when we reached a certain age. When I was in high school, I thought I’d have everything figured out by the time I graduated college. I think when I’m thirty I’ll still feel like a novice in most things, when I’m forty I won’t feel over the hill, when I’m sixty I’ll still feel too young to retire, and when I’m eighty I’ll still want my mom to make me soup when I’m sick.
For all my friends staring down the daunting reality of working 9 to 5 for the rest of your life. Because at this rate, retirement is just a myth for us, folks.
- Decorate your house in a whimsical manner You may have to dress fancy for the office or your unpaid internship, but at least you can come home to mismatched cups and a wall covered entirely in old records and bird-shaped shower curtain rings.
- Keep all your Disney movies (and watch them frequently) VHSs will soon be a thing of the past and when the last VCR poops out you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t take full advantage of the childhood wonder that is Disney. They may be sexist and racist, but what makes you feel more like a kid than singing Hakuna Matata?
- Bright colors Obviously I’m a fan of bright colors, as I endorse them frequently. But seriously, stick a neon barrette in your hair or a fluorescent watch on your wrist and you’ve automatically got a more youthful bounce in your step.
- Onesies/footy pajamas This one should be obvious I think.
- Dance breaks Grownups take themselves too seriously. Don’t take yourself so seriously, take some time to just dance. Don’t believe me? Look at Ellen DeGeneres.
- General silliness Practical jokes, silly voices, costume parties, running around getting into shenanigans, concentration 64, etc.
- Work with kids Okay, so not everyone can do this one, but believe me when I say there is nothing that makes you feel more like a kid than running around for 30 minutes playing Big Bad Wolf (in which you’re the wolf of course).
- Karaoke Sing badly and loudly and you’ll feel free.