Monday, October 05, 2009

On being grown up

When I was a kid, I thought that once I turned 16, I would be grown up. All my freckles would go away. And I would look like Barbie.

This, as you know, is exactly what happened.


So in high school, still befreckled and un-Barbielike, I was sure that once I was in college I'd feel like a grown up. In college, I was so lost. I assumed that once I graduated, adulthood would set in.

My senior year, my boyfriend - the one who worked at the Archives - and I were talking about getting married. You know, when we turned 24 and were real, responsible adults.

Kid you not. And then we broke up, which was really for the best, since marriage and immediate divorce would've just been a scene all around.

And then I was the youngest and smallest in the office in my first job. People were very protective of me, and I felt young. And inexperienced. And really, just, so far from adult.

Another Lisa started not long after I did, and so people initially referred to me as "Little Lisa."

But soon realized they couldn't refer to the other as "Big Lisa" - at which point they used our last initials.

But "Little Lisa" stuck with a number of them.

And in my 20s, I felt as lost and floundery as ever. When I hit 30, I figured, that's when I'd be grown up.

Because certainly I'd be married by then. Because 30, 30 was so unimaginably old.

Ha again.

So 30 came and went, and I hadn't established what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I lived one year after another with continual and increasing responsibility - in my job, in owning a condo, in keeping my father alive.

And still, still other people my age seemed so much more adult than I felt. Particularly the ones who wore suits to work and were in charge of people and made big decisions.

I've never wanted to make big decisions, and while I've supervised people, it's not something I enjoy. One old boyfriend, with regard to my work preferences, said, "Basically, you want to be left alone to screen print in the corner."

Yeah, kind of.

The fact is, I have a job, but not a real career. I could be on a career path, but my hope is not to get to the top of my profession, but rather, get off it one day and just write. Which puts me in a not very career-driven position.

And so all this is leading up to the following: You'd think that when you got married, you'd feel grown up. And if that didn't happen, then certainly when you had a kid.

And yet, there are so many moments when I'm all, "Holy crap! I'm married! I'm not grown up enough to be married!"

I kind of elbow myself and say, "Can you believe it?"

And then I look down at sweet little Jordan and say, "AND, and you have a kid!"

Truthfully, I feel like I've done this without ever attaining the kind of grownupness that I thought I would.

But if it hasn't hit by now, when will it?


  1. So... you're telling me that no amount of waitiung will make me finally feel like an adult. I think I can live with that. Maybe I'll just stop waiting.

  2. This, THIS is what our parents were thinking whenever they told us that something was for grown-ups. They were secretly thinking that they hoped we never found out that they weren't grown-ups, either.

    Well, all parents except for Dr. Taggart, who was an adult when she was 9.

  3. And really, hopefully you never will. It's all about your attitude. You're doing grown up stuff, that should be enough. You can feel young forever and have a much better life. Grownups? that's for old folks! Stay young Lisa, it makes for a much better mom and wife and friend. As for a writer, you all ready are! Age defying is what your doing. Hang on to it!You'll feel old and grownup soon enough.

  4. Meh... for various reasons, I think I've prematurely become an adult. At least in some parts of my life. It's no fun and I'm not sure it serves any useful purpose.

    Stay in Neverland and never grow up... :-)

  5. This hit home for me. When I was little, being grown-up meant my hair and make-up looked pretty all the time. I'm the youngest of 5, so I've always been the "little sister" and look up to others. I was lost when I started working, not having someone to look up to. And now, like you, I'd prefer a more creative career than making decisions. It seems everyone around me has started having children, and I'm not there for many reasons, one may be that I'll always see myself as the little one.

  6. Should we be hoping that it hits us? I wonder if we just go with what we feel...young...that might serve us better. I'm not sure though.

  7. i just assume i'll never feel "like a grown up". i have no idea what i think grownups feel like i just don't think i'll ever get there.
    but damn do i feel OLD sometimes...

  8. I am with notsojenny...I don't think I will ever feel grown up, and thats ok. It seems kind of lame anyway.

  9. If you have a retirement plan and the clerk at the store calls you "Ma'am", you are officially a grown up. No matter how you feel.

  10. I think that I'll be an adult when I start saving for retirement. Which sadly, I need to do, and everyone knows that the longer you save, the more money you will have. I guess I keep waiting to get married and piggyback onto my husband's plan. Something tells me maybe it's time to do it on my own. No white knight of finance has yet to ride in and save me from an undiversified portfolio.

  11. My husband likes to constantly remind me that I was born an adult. First part-time job at 12, real "grown up" job at 18, started IRA at 20, masters degree at 22, first house at 23, and ZERO (*gasp*) episodes of vomiting/black out as a result of drinking. I guess it's just in my genes :)

  12. lisa, i just turned 53, but inside i feel about ten years old most of the time. i'm finally beginning to realize that i will never be "an adult" even though i am married, have a house, a job, and even college-aged children. if you ever figure it out, let me know, k? :)

  13. I think about this ALL the time, really.

    And also? I'm planning on coming to DC sometime in the November 5-10(ish) area. Will you be around??

    Coming won't be worth it if I can't meet you.

  14. Blah! at 44 I still wonder what the grown-ups are doing. I guess waiting for it is a waste of waiting. SOmetimes it isnt going to happen so enjoy not being a grown-up.

  15. Yeah, still not grown up myself, what with the mortgage and marriage and 12 year old kid.

    My husband and I were just wondering how it was possible that we, who continually come up with ways to trick our kid ["Let's take all of the apple turnovers she just made and hide them, but leave the crumby plate out, so she thinks we ate them all and left none for her! HEEHEEHEE!"], have all the trappings of adulthood and yet aren't.

    So, I think there are some people who just aren't grown ups. No matter what. Revel in it!

  16. I've been feeling more like a grown up lately because I've had to go to bat for Sugarplum. The feeling comes and goes.

    Our house certainly doesn't look like adults live here.

  17. When I was completely out from under any financial support from my parents, had been living on my own for several years, had bought a car on my own, had held the same job for a few years, I said to my dad (who was 55 at the time),

    "Dad. I'm doing all this on my own, and I still don't feel grown up. How long does it take to really feel like an adult?" And he said,

    "At least 56 years."

  18. I'm approaching fifty and I'm afraid I'll turn old and gray without ever having felt like a real grown up. As long as people around me do not realize this and don't take advantage of it, I don't think, I'm missing much.

    Does anyone really feel grown up? Perhaps nobody does. It's just not talked about.

    PS: Sorry for answering as "Anonymous". For some reason the program does not accept my wordpress-identity.

  19. Grown up - The voice of reason in your head coupled with the maturity and confidence to be yourself anyway because you know there could be consequences and you can handle that.

    So Lisa that makes you grown up in my book.

    Besides the people in suits making big decisions probably have Lisa envy and wish they had your creative spark.


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