I had a photo taken of me recently, I am looking at the camera and the wrinkles around my eyes are noticeable.
I have recently begun to notice that I am getting older.
I am aging, and it’s showing up. This is corresponding with the very real and swift acceptance that I am an adult. I’m a grown-up dealing with grown-up things in a grown-up world.
This doesn’t have to do with paying bills. I’ve done that since I was 20. It’s not about budgeting a paycheck and planning the deductions ahead of time. It’s not gassing the car. It’s not the lack of being carded anymore when I buy alcohol. It’s not even about going to work; I’ve been doing that for 27 years now (how shocking to write, shocking to read).
It’s not even a feeling. It’s like I’m a curio cabinet, you open the doors and there on the shelf is a small urn labelled “Adult”. It’s replaced the urn labelled “Child”.
Those things, they’re all responsibilities. There’s something more to this. It’s not having children, any teenager can pull that off. I think it’s more about being weary, to some extent. You operate on less sleep than you would like. It’s about routines – I write a blog post at 3AM am, I drink two cups of coffee before 4AM, I drive to work. It’s about being particular about things – like the countertop to be wiped whenever you see a ring on it. You want the dishwasher to be emptied when the cycle is done. You like the bed to be made when the last person exits it.
I see things that make me understand that I’m an adult.
Maybe that’s what it is. You see rebels shifting people from parts of their countries, their homes. You see children beaten, starved, abandoned. You see earthquakes burying people in mountains of rubble. You see your family being a dick about things because that’s all they know how to be. You see the unemployment figures soaring and the house prices plummeting. You see the veins and lines in your hands getting more prominent; you feel your joints as they start to fail.
You become an adult because the news, the world, the environment made you become one. You see the downfalls that we have, the failures, the successes, the joys, and you take them all in because your feet make sure you stay there and do so. You soak up the sun and think of skin cancer, you inhale the flowers and worry about the bees, you know in the back of your mind that you are a responsible person with obligations and people who depend on you. But above all, you read and see things that make you ache and which you know are things that are absolute, that are things you cannot change. Instead of being a kid and trying to find a way to build a time machine to go back and make things good again, you lower your shoulders in defeat and accept that these things are horrible, they’re unbearable, but you cannot create that time machine you wish you could, you cannot make things better.
You spend your life hoping to become the person you think you could become. And then you see a photo of yourself, and your wrinkles, and the toll that some things have taken on you (both positive and negative) and you realize that maybe you already are that person you hoped you could become.
It’s not what you’d expected.
It never is.