My parents always said that I was “mature” for my age, which now, looking back, may have been their way of expressing relief that I was fairly easy to manage as a child. Over the summer, I asked my mother to bring me some knitting things from my old stash, and she was very amused that I was once again taking up an “old lady” activity. Turning twenty-two has made me start to wonder— at what point do I stop being mature for my age? (Read: how old do I have to be to knit in peace without being made fun of?)
Last year, I wrote about no longer feeling the need to chase the extraordinary and instead embracing the mundane. All that still applies. But I was in school back then, in a positive feedback loop of clear expectations and goals. Now, with the rest of my life ahead of me and no designated best path, merely deriving joy from small comforting moments of my everyday feels compensatory. Yes, I love lighting a candle and folding some laundry. Even so, I feel as though I was in such a rush to become a proper adult that I’ve lost some of the willingness to dream that I used to have. In my mad push to feel grown up and in control, I abandoned the thought that I could do things that I loved, be a person I’d admire. I believed that being able to pay the bills and live comfortably meant trading in things I had once wanted for myself. In a small way, I sold out.
I’m not advocating a complete renunciation of pragmatism. The bills still need to be paid. I still prefer organic produce. But stepping into adulthood has made me realize that if I continue down this path of making choices in the name of being sensible, I will be very sad (and so bored!) very soon. I’m taking this new year, my twenty-second, to rediscover my dreams, my hopes, my wants. Some of those, I’m already realizing, are actually needs. There are things that I want out of life that I need to have moving forward— meaningful relationships with people, a sense of community and of purpose, the fulfillment that only comes from doing things I actually care about. I’m trying to avoid burning out before turning 25. I need to feel like my life has soul. If that means channeling a childlike vision of my future that I haven’t entertained in years, I’m willing to go there and do that.
By focusing so single-mindedly on making decisions that were mature, I’ve lost my way. I’ve forgotten the things that I used to want for myself. Now, I’m trying to remember.
Featured photo taken at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac, August 2019.