Archive for March, 2013

Twenty-somethings at the ‘Kids table’

Tweens, teens and college students might gripe when they’re placed at the “kids table” for Easter, but when you’re still at the kids’ table after college, and you realize everyone else is also in their twenties (or older), you’ve officially reached adulthood.

Families have a nice (or possibly obnoxious) way of aging together, depending on how well you get along with yours.

So constant “kids table” status for can almost turn back time, almost bring you back to childhood whenever family gatherings roll around.

That’s why it can sneak up on you.

The “kids table” doesn’t have a single “kid” anymore. You and the cousins you used to have Beanie Baby wars with now all have careers. You and the other set of cousins you used to play house or Barbies with are starting to move out and “play house” for real.

It’s the big leagues in the day-to-day reality of twenty-something life, yet with family, it’s easy to slip right back into the child role again.

That’s why it’s not the moment when everyone at the “kids table” graduates college or enters their twenties that signals you’ve officially reached adulthood. It’s actually the moment when you take a step back and become intellectually aware of everyone’s no-longer-childlike age – that’s the moment you’ve officially hit another adulthood milestone.

It’s hard to say what will cause that moment – what comment, old family photo, magazine article, phone call, or other spontaneous event – will make the collective adultness of the “kids” in your family hit you.

Heck, I’m not even sure this realization has fully hit me yet.

All I’m saying is it’s a big one. It means something.

It means no one can stop time. Not even your family.

As much as we might like to keep being kids – in the sense that it allows us to get our food first (without even preparing it!) and have our needs considered more important than the rest of the group’s – we have to realize, we’ve grown up.

There’s nothing sad or bad about it, but there’s at least one thing that’s great:

No matter how adult our lives and responsibilities become, we get to go through them with the same cousins we goofed off with as kids, and with the same aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents who tried to show us the way. That allows us to keep an element of child hidden in our official adultness, ready to make the occasional appearance when it’s right, or at the least opportune moment, depending on our luck.

Our family tables may be out of real “kids” but the real kid will never be out of us.

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Cheers to 25: A year of feeling the same and making it count

Greetings from the exact middle of twenty-something life: the 25th birthday.

Mine is Thursday, so technically, I haven’t made it to the exact middle of this phase of life just yet.

But mentally, I’m there. And this is how it feels:

The same.

For once, I’ve flipped a calendar, aged another year, and it feels exactly the same.

I hear this is a sign of maturity, or at least of being well-adjusted. It means we aren’t wide-eyed freshmen at this thing called adult life anymore. We’ve got a little experience, we’ve been through the cycle of a year off the school calendar, and we’re better for it. Steadier. Calmer. More prepared. Ready for anything.

It’s not like when we turned, say, 9 years old, and had to rub it in to the other 8-year-olds on the playground that we were now older and smarter than they.

It’s not like when we hit 16, and scored our first drivers license; when we turned 18, left for college and began living on our own; when we turned 21 and became legal drinkers; or even when we turned 22 and entered the career world; or 23 and finished our first full year on the job.

25 is different because 25 is more of the same.

By now, we have more than a couple years of this adulthood thing under our belts, so hitting another birthday in our mid-twenties doesn’t feel like any certain milestone.

Sure it’s a quarter-century, as many of us will point out in our Facebook posts advertising our celebratory get-togethers. And it does put us closer to the scary number 30 than we are to 20. But 25 is really just another year of building our careers and relationships, filling our resumes and passports, aiming for our goals and dreams, planning for our futures.

Feeling the same at 25 as we did at 24 doesn’t mean we’ve perfected the art of twenty-something living. It doesn’t erase our flaws or cure our bad habits. And it doesn’t give us any super powers… (Sorry.)

And just because 25 feels the same doesn’t mean we’re doomed for a year that is exactly the same. If we despise our job, we’re not stuck in it. If we need a bigger apartment, we can find one. If we’ve got a big idea, now’s the time to run with it.

We can make new friends, pursue new adventures, visit different states and countries and even change the world. We know how to do all these things. All of them. And at 25, we’ve done many of them before.

So here’s to this year of feeling the same and making a difference, feeling the same and doing our best, feeling the same and being ourselves.

Because that’s what 25 is all about – feeling the same, and making it count.

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Seeing the good: The only benefit of overanalyzing

For those of us who “think a lot” to put it kindly, it’s impossible to stop the thoughts from swirling, obsessing and overanalyzing – even when something goes right.

I’ve noticed I often mentally backtrack when something good happens to determine what exactly allowed it to happen in the first place.

For example, let’s say a guy at the gym tells me I have “fantastic” legs and admits he was checking me out. While enjoying the attention, I flash back on everything that allowed me to be in his line of sight, running on the treadmill with my apparently “fantastic” legs at exactly the right time. It goes something like this:

“If I hadn’t forgotten my lunch box at my desk, had to dig for my access card and scan in twice to go get it; if I hadn’t accidentally passed up the one good parking spot left at the gym at 5:52 p.m., and had to go to the bathroom before choosing a treadmill, I never would have been in the right place at the right time to be seen by this guy who told me I have “fantastic” legs.

I know, I know. I think way too much. But somehow, in cases like this at least, it’s satisfying.

While it’s basically traveling in reverse through the typical tasks and minor setbacks of an average suburban work day, this kind of mental rewinding is also the only way overanalyzing a situation can come anywhere close to being fun.

That alone makes it worthwhile to me.

As far as the delays and timing that allowed the gym compliment to happen, I can’t call it fate – every last bit of it was too ordinary.

If it’s fate that I almost left work without my lunch box, skipped over a parking spot and had to pee, then every time I burp is fate, too. So is every stop light I get stuck at and every song that plays at every shop in the mall.

And see, there I go again – overanalyzing.

Call it whatever you will – fate, luck, timing, coincidence or simply life – good things do happen.

So strike up a conversation with someone new at the gym. Or bask in the memories aroused by the 90s pop-rock playing at the coffee shop. Smile when stop lights turn green, when parking spots open up and when you don’t have to pee during the entire staff meeting. Appreciate when a co-worker buys you a cookie – even if only because it’s super easy to get an extra one with a Subway combo meal – and recognize, all those things may be insignificant, but they’re still just as good.

You can even allow yourself the extra pleasure of tracing back what you did before those small, enjoyable occurrences to realize nice moments really can result from everyday hassles and annoyances.

Because as long as you’re seeing the good and enjoying life, there’s no such thing as overanalyzing.

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You’ve officially reached adulthood when … You dread tax time

When it’s a week or so into March and your online existence is teeming with statuses and statements like these, you know you’ve officially reached adulthood.

  •  Friday night and I’ve got a hot date with H&R Block. #ihateadulthood
  • Can’t wait for my tax rebate, since it’s paying my way to the Cubs convention!
  •  Today, I did my taxes. I owe the state $1.07. If I owed under $1, I wouldn’t have to pay. I am wasting a check because of a nickel and two pennies. FML.
  •   An hour and a half, two stamps, seven Internet tabs and five breaks to watch white-out dry later, my taxes are officially in the mail. Who’s up for a beer?

Filing taxes is almost by definition an adult task. It’s hard to claim yourself before you’re 18, so until then, you’re just a little check-mark on your parents’ return – a dependent.

Like most adult tasks, the responsibility of doing your taxes comes with choices. Do you find the forms from the library and the instructions online and file your taxes yourself? Or do you head to a Liberty Tax, Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block location that’s surely popped up just inches from your apartment or office, and have the “pros” handle it? Do you want your refund mailed to you or direct-deposited? Into checking or savings?

You get the picture, and all these choices make the process take even longer.

So far, I’ve chosen to do my taxes on my own. It doesn’t come easily to me, but I find a way, and after three years in this gig called adulthood, I may be getting the hang of it.

As tedious as taxes can be, I find completing them on my own brings a sense of accomplishment. Using the powers of reading and following directions, along with the calculator on my phone and the last drops of white-out in my cupboard, I’ve conquered something I don’t fully understand. I’ve handled something usually reserved for accountants or others who understand math, and I’ve taken care of it myself. My elementary school teachers would be proud.

Still, I can gripe and rant about taxes with the best of ‘em. Because what’s a dreadful task like filing taxes without a good session of venting and complaining?

As it’s still a more than a month from the tax deadline, I’ll leave you with this gem, once again courtesy of someecards.com:

“I wish complaining about taxes was tax deductible.” http://www.someecards.com/tax-day-cards/taxes-complaining-irs-tax-day-funny-ecard

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