I’m pushing 40 years old.
“WHAT?!? But girl, you’re so hip and so youthful and look (or I imagine you look) sooo young,” you say. I know, I know. But it’s true. Forty. Years. Old. I can hardly believe it too.
It’s around this time people stop to take stock, to impart the lessons they’ve learned along the way and offer assurance as to why forty is the new thirty, or that age is just a number. And when I actually turn 40 (still over 365 days off), perhaps I will throw my thoughts into the virtual universe too. Because really, I’ve never actually felt as old as I am or been bothered by getting older.
But not today.
Today, I’d like to discuss why, I am still faced with problems that I was supposed to outgrow.
1. Why, WHY, at nearly forty years old, do I still get acne? This is a problem that is rampant among the Beliebers (see, I told you I was old. The kids are over Justin Beiber, aren’t they?) — the tweens, teens and awkward adolescents who can find comfort in knowing they are not the only ones with unsightly blemishes. They nod in solidarity at the Pro-Active commercials while waiting for the latest MTV reality show to continue.
I have two kids, a mortgage and (finally) no outstanding student loans. I have wrinkles and (probably) grey hairs (if I could see without my glasses). Why does the wicked universe insist on marking my decidedly non-adolescent face with acne? It’s like seeing an elderly women with fake boobs. It’s not right. I know, the hormones are to blame. (They always are.) But it’s not fair. It wasn’t fair at 16 but I soldiered on because I was made to believe that I would outgrow it. Acne in your late thirties (no matter how infrequent or minor) is REALLY not fair.
2. I also want to know why I still never have any privacy. I shared a room with my sister and shared a raised ranch with 5 other people for most of my adolescent life. I was a teen who liked a little (ok, alot of) alone time. I liked to brood in silence about how awful braces are and why a boy didn’t like me and how I could meet Rob (or Chad) Lowe because obviously if we met, he (they) would fall madly in love with me. But someone was always around. “When I grow up…I can do all the private brooding I want,” I’d confess to my diary.
Now I hear a running commentary even when going to the bathroom. “You’re peeing now! Can I see? I want to see!” No one mentioned that in order to get privacy as an adult you have to hide, miles from your house, without a phone, a blindfold (so you don’t see the smoke signals) and earplugs (so you don’t hear them yelling for you). And even then, you’ll start to feel guilty and your private time will be ruined.
So next time your teen complains they don’t have any privacy, tell them “tough.” You’re just preparing them for adulthood.
3. Why do I still care what you think? I was led to believe that somewhere along the line, you grow out of this. Like you’re acne, it just stops. You become too old to care. Sure I’ve learned how to be myself and sure I get that not everyone will like me, and I will move on. But that doesn’t mean I won’t care. (Why doesn’t that other mother talk to me? I think we could be friends. I hope she likes me! How could she not like me?)
I know there are people who will tell you they honestly don’t care what others think, but if they are lucky enough to find some privacy and really look inward, do they really, truly not care at all what anyone else thinks? Don’t all those counter-culture types still actually care what the other counter-culture types think? Shouldn’t we fess up and tell our kids that caring what others think is just part of human nature and instead of making them feel bad for it? Tell them you’ll learn not to waste too much time worrying about it but it will still happen.
4.There comes a time in a young person’s life when the only thing in the world they want is to be treated like an adult. HA! The foolishness of youth. Now that I am an adult, people treating me like I am my age is still a problem. People insist on treating me like an adult. I thought this was supposed to be fun and make me feel mature and sophisticated. It’s not fun and makes me feel stressed.
So when you’re teenager laments, “why can’t you just treat me like an adult?!” Don’t get all, “you want to be treated like an adult? I’ll treat you like an adult…” Instead, flip the script and make them treat you like a teenager. Beg them to make you go straight to your room, turn off all your technology and sit. Don’t forget to sneak a bottle of booze. Enjoy. You’re welcome.
5. Of course, you’ll need to remember, you can no longer drink like a teenager. When I was really mature – like an old teenager in college – I couldn’t wait for the day I could drink like an adult. A glass of Merlot while out to dinner. A dinner party with cordials and aperitifs. But seriously, how great would it be to be able to drink like a teenager again? Start early, drink through the night, make crazy memories, wake up whenever you wake up and feel only slightly hungover, ready to do it all again.
Now that I’m an adult, a glass of wine at dinner may result in face planting into my main course as I’ve fallen asleep. Okay, I’m being dramatic. But there is a direct correlation between the number of drinks consumed and the number of days — DAYS — it will take to recover.
It’s a cruel, cruel world.
Do I wish I could go back to those uncertain days? Absolutely not. I just wish some older, wiser, but still young at heart woman in her late thirties would’ve laid it out straight. Now, hand me the Neutrogena so I can apply in front of my constant audience, then hit like and share to show you care.