Monday, January 18, 2010

how becoming an adult is a lot like 4th grade

As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, brushing my shoulder-length brown hair, a noticed a fleeting sparkle near the top of my head. I put my brush down and moved closer to the mirror to determine if this sighting was what I suspected. It was. A silver thread of hair was protruding from my scalp just around my part. “What the fuck?” I muttered to myself. At 25 was I really old enough to have graying hair? Apparently, yes. A quick tug on the strand and it was gone. My auburn tresses were pure again, and my fantasies of a salt and pepper crown quickly disappeared out of consciousness,Until a few weeks later…

I had an appointment with an advisor at my college’s career and advisement center. As I entered the room I went to the front desk and was greeted by a young man probably no more than five years younger than me. “Please sign in and have a seat ma’am,” he said to me. That simple term of address shook my world. Ma’am? Ma’am! Do I look like a ma’am!? I instantly became self-conscious about my appearance. I yanked that gray thing out weeks ago, I’m not getting wrinkles, am I? As I waited there a couple of teenage girls walked in, obviously freshman, and I immediately became envious of their youth: their solid dark hair color, their ability to still wear Delia’s t-shirts and skinny jeans, their minimum wage part-time jobs. They probably think I’m someone’s mom, I thought to myself. I was where you guys were less than a decade ago, I said to them in my head. I’m still hip, you know. I can use the word “fierce” in everyday conversation. I know who Speidi is. I know how to text. I’m down, yo! One of the girls glanced at me and then they walked away. I also go to bed at 10 p.m. sometimes. I drink tea. I talk to my cats. I hang out with my mom because I want to… Good God I am old!

When I arrived home after my appointment, I told my mother what had happened. “You know, ‘ma’am’ is a term of respect in the south,” she said.
“Well this isn’t the south!” I barked back. “I look old, because I am old. My youthfulness is quickly fading.”

“You look your age, and 25 is not old. Now shut up and get away from me,” said my charming mother. “And there’s nothing wrong with getting old.”

I went to my room and pondered the last thing she said. I guess there really isn’t anything wrong with getting old. I began to feel self-righteous. Stupid culture placing an over-importance on youthfulness, making me feel bad for the natural occurrences that are happening to me! Fuck TV! Fuck Magazines! Fuck America! And then I took a nap.

With that said, I’d like to think the moral of my story is that I am growing up and liking it (which happens to be the title of a booklet for fourth graders on menstrual hygiene. Ironic? I think not). This is a time of my life which I can liken to when I was ten. All the boys in class got to go outside and play kickball while the girls stayed inside and the teachers shut the blinds. Changes are brewing, and I’m ready! I’m not a girl, but I’m all woman and though I may still feel like a 12-year-old, society has granted me all the rights and responsibilities that are placed on adults… like my parents. What was society thinking?


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