Sunday, July 16, 2006

So I'm not a kid anymore, they tell me.

So I'm 30, right? But I work and go to school at a university, so my peers are all college students, and younger than me, but we get along fine and have a good time and it's not a big deal. And I consider myself a "college student."

But I'm here in France, and I live in the dorms with the short-term youth volunteers, since I am a short-term volunteer myself, and all these kids that I live and work and eat and hang out with are younger than me (most are 18-23), and I'm used to that...but THEY are not. I have had a couple of the kids be REALLY surprised at my age (and then they tell me that they would have guessed that I was 21, or 25 :) ), and one of the men who lives here longterm asked me if I felt "isolated" by living up with all the kids. Uh, no, hadn't really thought of it like that. All my friends at home are the ages of the youth volunteers, so it's not a big deal to me.

But the fact that it is surprising to others that being with people so much younger than me is normal for me has caused me to reflect a LOT on who I am, and what has made me and is currently making me who I am, and why I do the things I do, and what makes us "adult." I'm with Lauren on the whole "sure that someday I'll turn into this insta-boring adult" thing, and yet the other day, because of some things that happened here, and the comments of a couple of good friends here, I thought, "have I already passed that point??" and I felt a bit panicked. And I just now remembered a comment that Josh made the week I turned 30 - I made some comment about 30 being old and boring, and he said that I wasn't but if I got that way before Friday night (the night of my big ol' party), he'd let me know. Uh, actually, please don't. I don't think I want to know.

I want to hold onto the things that make me young and that make people here think that I'm 21 or 25 :) but at the same time, it's OK if I don't want to stay up all night partying with the other kids.

Or is it? I have been thinking about WHY I do things and don't do other things - the "culture" that I am in here is SOOOOOOOoooooOOOoOo different from what I am used to!! Last night I was out with some friends, and I made a comment about not being totally comfortable where we were, and one friend said that it's just that it's different from what I'm used to. Um, yes, that is true, but is that the only reason I wasn't comfortable? And do I WANT to be comfortable in circumstances that are SO different from what I would CHOOSE for my life? I know that often FEAR keeps us from doing new things (back to that whole "getting out of the comfort zone" thing), but when is it "fear of things that I am not used to" and when is it "a good decision that I have chosen to make in my life"?

It's a pretty interesting train of thought for me, and I hope that I am different when I get back and that it's a good "I understand myself better and am more comfortable in my own skin than I was before I came here" type of different. And I hope that I remember (and record!) all these trains of thought so that I can continue to reflect on this and grow rather than just reverting back to the comfort zone that I left three weeks ago.


Heather from One Woman's World said...

Fascinating, Margaret. I felt like that when I got married. I wondered when we'd hit our "grown-up" stage. It's always hard to know. I just kept acting like I was single. It's so weird defining ourselves in all these different circumstances. Have fun in France. Eat some cheese for me!

Janell said...

30? You can't be a day over 27.

I know 50 year olds who still have a mental view that they are a "kid" and only 20. Its never occured to them that they are much "older" than that. It's all a state of mind.

Stay yourself! I'd be terribly sad if you turned into a boring, old adult.

Grammy said...

Ok, I am in my 50s now and I'm afraid that Janell is right. I still have the same thoughts, desires and feelings that I did at 21, it's just that sometimes these days, the body has trouble keeping up with them.

When I was about your age, I said to an older woman (in her 70's) that I admired, "When I grow up, Beth, I'd like to be just like you." She just laughed and said, "Oh, Honey, you don't have to grow up to do that." So I have taken that as my permission to stay young forever...AND I'm enjoying it, too!

Love your life, Margaret and feel free to only embrace the parts of maturity that suit you!