Sunday, 7 March 2010

Am Reel Grown-Up, Srsly

I work part-time as a Youth Worker (get me and the responsibility), and a boy at Club recently said that I was not a "proper" grown-up because I'm not 30 or older. Now, while I can't (and don't want to) fault the boy's logic, it did feed in to my recent musings on whether or not I am actually a grown-up. On the one hand, I have been referred to several times in the past few weeks as a woman, rather than a girl (and when I was in Barcelona the waiters were referring to me as "senora" rather than "senorita". Ouch), I don't live with parents, I can legally buy booze, and I have proper jobs. On the other hand, I'm sat here in a Count Duckula hoodie, I don't own a house or car, I'm harbouring a not-so-secret desire to see The Princess and the Frog, and in defiance of assumptions based on my gender the thought of marriage sends me into a panic.

When people ask me if I'm married and/or have kids, I get a knee-jerk panic-y urge to laugh and exclaim that I'm too young - and then I get the cold, cold realisation that the fact I could be married with kids is a reasonable thing for a stranger to expect from me based on my age. And once I realise that, I get the urge to curl up into a ball making a high-pitched "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" sound until it all goes away. I've come around to the idea of a wedding (it's a day all about you, you gets loads of gifts, all your family and friends will be there and it's a one-off deal, they're unlikely to cancel on you they way they might on a birthday, everyone spends the day telling you how great you look, you choose all the songs that get played, your favourite food gets served, there's champagne, there's cake - what's not to like?) but the fact you'd have to be married after that day still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic things about being a grown-up (or at least on the way to being a proper grown-up), as follows:-

  • I can spend as long as I bloody want when choosing a tooth-brush. I realise how flat-out crazy this makes me sound, but I like choosing a tooth-brush based largely on colour and I spend anything up to half an hour finding one I really like. When I was a kid this drove my mum nuts and she'd always rush me, grab any old tooth-brush and drag me away from the stand, so now it's just me, my money and my time on the line, and I can spend it ny damned way I want, I spend it picking a tooth-brush that I like the look of.
  • Being what they call "sans parents": I can wander in and out of the house whenever I want, and unless I feel inclined to let my housemates know where I'm going I don't have to. Not having to answer to anyone but yourself is very liberating. Don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly living a party lifestyle to rival Paris Hilton, but the fact that I could is great.
  • I cook for myself. Now, this is a bit of a double-edged sword because I fucking love having dinner made for me, but I am also a good cook and a very fussy eater. When cooking for myself (or doing the cooking for myself and others) I can be as fussy as I want and don't have to worry about putting people out. For example, I have to have carrots cut into lengths; in circles they cook quicker and get soft and I like my veg very al dente, so I don't like them that way. I also quite like the flavour of mushrooms and courgettes but hate their texture, so I have to cut them up really small to "hide" them in the rest of my food. And I don't like uncooked tomatoes. And I hate risotto. And I can't have whole cooked spinich leaves because I feel like I'm going to choke on them, they have to be cut up. And I could go on, but I think you get the idea by now.
  • The older I get and the more grown-up I get, the less I give a shit about what other people think of me. I mean I'll go to my grave working desperately for the love and acceptance of friends, family and those I like and/or respect - but strangers on the street? I increasingly think, aww, screw 'em. Back in my teen years I couldn't even leave the house without make-up - now I can at least head out for milk from the corner shop with no make-up and wearing a t-shirt I've slept in. And although I'm still massively judgemental about strangers in the street, I don't really care if people in the street are being massively judgemental about me in turn.
  • Money. I don't care about it for itself, but I sure do enjoy spending it. I usually spend it on DVDs and going to the movies and the pub and video games and over-priced make-up and, very rarely, clothes and shoes. Now I'm a grown-up living independent of my mother and answering to no one but myself, I don't have to justify my spending to anyone else. I've been earning my own money since I was 16 so I've not been reliant on 'rental fundage for over a decade now, but while still living under Mum's roof I did often end up having to defend purchases to her. Now my crazy crazy addiction to Benefit and Urban Decay doesn't need to be hidden or explained away; if I want to spend eleven bloody pounds on one bloody eyeshadow, it's my money and I can. So there.

The downside of being a grown-up is more of a cloud-to-the-silver-lining kind of deal. No one's responsible for my life but me; it's all my decisions and my choices and if I make stupid ones then I've no one to blame but myself. Also, bills and rent and living to a budget? It sucks. When I was a teen, if I spent everything I earned in one day and had literally nothing left until next pay-day, then blubs, it wasn't the end of the world, I didn't have anything that needed paying. Now if I spent my whole paycheck in HMV or something, then I'd end up homeless. Not so fun.

Still, apart from my occasional regressions (retro hoodie, going to Universal Studios for my birthday, kicking through piles of leaves, playing Lego Batman...) it's not that bad growing up. It's still scary to find myself involved in conversations about marriage and babies, though...Not getting over that fear anytime soon.

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