When I was 12, I admired my older counterparts. I believed that they held all of the answers and could do anything they wanted. I mean, the people I admired wore makeup, could drive, were fearless and had boyfriends.
My priorities were certainly in order.
In any case, it’s funny to be 23 years young and still feel 12 at times (minus the longing-to-grow-up part). The major difference between a decade ago and now is that I realize what it feels like to be at the age I most admired, and it isn’t as glamorous as I had imagined. I also know people my age, and they share my sentiments. Sure, being older certainly has its perks, but I am bit surprised to have finally “arrived” only to realize that I am still continuing, and most things I thought I once knew are no longer true.
Oh to be 12 again, with a flawless complexion, training bra and a more simple outlook on the world. At that age, the only thing I didn’t understand was why adults took such a long time getting ready for bed and why 30 minutes felt like a whole day. Other than that, adults were perfectly awesome, knew everything and could eat ice cream any time that they wanted. I speculated that adults would wake up in the middle of the night to eat ice cream. just to remind themselves that they could. This was, perhaps, the only thing I imagined that was true.
When I was 12, I also imagined love being effortless. I thought that two perfect strangers would just run into each other one day and, within the span of half a blink, fall madly in love . I am glad this isn’t true, but I am also just so very surprised. So surprised that I began to eat too much ice cream. You know what I discovered? Ice cream doesn’t solve the world’s problems. Ice cream may taste good, but it really doesn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t have any special answers within each bite. It just makes you fat. It also makes me think about how I really should go to the dentist soon. People lied to me about the benefits of ice cream. The dentists and gym must have endorsed them.
I am not sure if it is obvious, but I recently came out of my first breakup, and my 12-year-old self revolted. The whole notion of a breakup was in stark opposition to my Disney-infused imaginings of adulthood (minus the ice cream, of course).
I grew up in a home that fostered imagination and creativity. A big proponent of Disney, I gleaned many of my ideas about love from fairy tales. At the time, it was fine. After all, I was raised in the “true love waits” era where the prime belief was that there was only one special person out there for you. I also believed that I would happily marry the first person I dated, and live a long life until we breathed our last breath—preferably at the same time, while holding hands and looking lovingly into each other’s eyes.
Thanks a lot, The Notebook. *eye roll*
While there is nothing wrong with this beautiful love story, I am rapidly realizing that I don’t want to live someone else’s fairy tale. I would prefer to live life marching to the beat of my own drum, living out my own story, instead of trying to fit into someone else’s. At times this has proven to be tricky, because who doesn’t want a magical story and an idealized life? But comparison is an absolute thief. Comparison has the ability to snatch up the joy that can be found in the little things. It can derail people from their destiny and make them miss out on precious moments and wonderful people.
So instead of waiting for prince charming to suddenly appear, I have decided to enjoy the things that I have and intentionally start living life with an enormous amount of zest.
We are all humans and are wonderfully unique.
A man will not and cannot complete me, but I do think it would be wildly amazing to become friends with someone who would complement my personality.
In the meantime, I am actively discovering who I am and the kind of person I want to become. It is fun being an adult, but it has also made me realize the humanity of people.
No one is perfect and, despite my imaginings, I didn’t grow up to be perfect either, but I think that this makes life so beautiful and grace so rich. My starry-eyed 12-year-old self is still adjusting to the scenery, but overall I am happy and pleasantly surprised by how great it feels to be an “adult” and realize that it is just the beginning.
I am an adult. I should probably wear my retainers, make my bed and fail to burn at least one waffle a week, but perhaps that’s not what it means to be an adult anyway. In that case, I am perfectly okay with burnt waffles, messy hair, embracing my own story and eating ice cream whenever I feel so inclined. Being an adult is nothing like I ever imagined, but it is much better because it is real and wonderfully raw.
As such, I will happily tell people that I probably know less now than I used to let on, and I will hopefully grow accustomed to three important words, “I don’t know,” because what I know or don’t know does not define me.
Maybe love won’t magically happen like I had surmised, but I am no longer waiting for it to appear—waiting for life to happen. I like my life, and I am learning to love myself in the midst of it.
Live, laugh and love.