Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Older than my years

Am I too mature for my own good? One of my college friends wrote that in the guestbook at the wedding, and I guess guestbooks are vague like emails (you know how people always say you have to be very careful what you write in an email because it's very easy to misinterpret someone's meaning? This is like that) because I couldn't tell if it was antagonistic or meant in a friendly way, or maybe a bit of both. Don't you just love the blurriness of old friendships?

Anyway, no matter how she meant it, I've been thinking about it. Everyone has always, always thought that I was older than I was, even when I was in elementary school. Part of that is that I've always been big for my age--in height and weight--but that's not all of it. I've always been that composed person. I've always been the diplomat. I've always been the rational one, the one other people come to for advice and perspective.

And I like giving it. I like that people view me as the stable, grounded one. I AM, for the most part, truly stable and grounded. I don't feel that I've been unfairly labeled, or misconstrued, or that I'm a square peg in a round hole or whatever else. I think that my friends' impression of me as grown up and reasonably objective and more or less organized is accurate.

At work people see me as composed. I don't make a habit of telling people my age, although I would certainly answer honestly if asked, and anyone who's seen my resume can pretty much figure it out from my college graduation date. But recently I was talking to one of my older coworkers about having to get a new passport in my married name (did you know that in the past when you changed your name, you could get a little notice of change of name added to your passport for free? But now, if you've had your passport for over a year, you have to get a brand new passport? And pay for it?). And I was saying how at least I'd had my passport for eight years out of the ten it was good for, and that at least I'd get a picture better than the terrible one of me at 16 that I currently have.

And I could SEE him doing the math. Seriously, I could almost watch the wheels turning in his head: Photo at 16 + 8 years of the passport = "Wait, you're only 24? REALLY?"

Yes, really. And it was meant as a compliment, and followed by a comment about how I have so much presence for someone so young, and I took it as a compliment. I was flattered. I am still flattered.

I do wonder how it looks from the outside. I was never a stereotypical college student. I was never out partying until dawn. I've never been drunk enough to puke. I was never terribly promiscuous. I can't look back and say "Oh, I'm so old--I just can't do it like I used to." Because I didn't used to. And I don't regret it.

I had fun in college. I cared more about my friends than about class, and I had a great time. When I graduated, I seriously enjoyed the year post-college that I spent living by myself. When I met Torsten, I told all my friends, and him, that I was going to take it slowly because I wasn't necessarily looking for a serious, long-term relationship. We all saw how that worked out. Two-plus years later and here I am, married at 24.

But I love it. I don't feel any regrets or longing for the wild youth I never had. I know that those of us who grew up stodgy and boring and always getting good grades and never doing anything that would horrify their parents--apparently we're supposed to turn rebellious late in the game, go back and live through the angsty youth long after most of our friends have grown up and moved on. But I'm just not feeling it.

I'm settling down. I have an amazing husband and a job that I very much enjoy. And I want to keep heading in that domestic direction. I want to have a house and a dog and, eventually, babies. (Speaking of which, Nilsa, yes please let's have our babies on the same timeline. I just can't remember what it's like to go through a major life milestone without you.)

So yes, I'm domestic, and unlike a lot of 24-year-olds that I know. Maybe that means that I'm too mature for my own good. But the flip side of that is that I know myself, and I know what I want, and I'm well on my way to getting it.

What about you? Do you think you're about on track for what's expected of people your age?

42 comments:

fritz said...

i dont think i have ever paid attention to what "people my age are doing" growing up i was always the youngest, and nothing i have done has been conventional. but i am happy where i am at!

Hope said...

I envy that at 24 you feel that you know who you are and what you want. At the ripe age of 27 I feel as lost as I felt at 15. So to answer your question, no I don't feel like I have achieved what is expected of me, from others or myself. Bleugh. :)

moo said...

From the day I was born, my mom always told me I had an "old soul" ... and it's true, I never really felt like I fit in anywhere, never fit the "stereotypical" um ... stereotypes of who I was supposed to be at any given age.

It sounds to me that you have an old soul, too.

Nilsa said...

People should be a little bit better about either filtering their looks-say-it-all or just come out and say what they're thinking. I find when people try to cover what they're thinking (even though their faces say it all) way more offensive than the actual thought itself.

At the end of the day, if you're happy (which you so clearly are), it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

And so long as "our timeline" isn't this year, I think we'll make good on the having babies at the same time! =)

pseudostoops said...

John was even younger than you when we got married, and I totally agree with moo's "old soul" assessment- some people just KNOW and are spared all the wandering around figuring it out business.

Jessica said...

I guess that I am "on track" but some family members are saying that we are doing things backwards - buying the house together and not even talking about engagement/wedding things. Eh, to each her own!

We have friends who are the same age as us, married, have a house and are expecting their THIRD baby next month. They make everyone else seem like they are behind =)

Our plan is the skip the kids and have a dog or two instead.

The Tomball Three said...

You are mature, but not too much for your own good. I've always been older in my mind than in my actual years. I don't know if that's because we're smart or we had good families or we are just focused. I don't know.

I DO know I enjoyed getting out of my 20's with no major incidents, good credit, a house I bought by myself, a good job and lots of friends.

If that's what I get for being mature. I'll take it.

Pickles and Dimes said...

People always assume I'm younger because of my looks, but then say, "You're so mature for your age!" So I don't know if they're basing on it my actual age, or how old they think I am.

I was exactly like you in college. :)

And I think I have an old soul as well.

Kyla Bea said...

This is funny, because even I didn't realize you were only 24!

I'm in the same boat, I'm always being sought after for advice and I know that most people I work with think that I'm 27 or 28 even though I look fairly young.

I think that part of it is that we're in a culture where it's acceptable to stretch out your teenage years into oblivion by binge drinking and working part time until you're in your 30s, when you're meant to entirely switch gears and transform into a soccer mom.

I'm glad that there's a bunch of us out there =)

Penny said...

Really? You are only 24? Just kidding.

I used to get that "grown up" comment all the time (I don't know what happened) but that has been supplanted by the terrible comment that "I'm so independent." Blech. It's like codeword for coldhearted bitch, basically.

I hate vague comments that aren't really compliments at all.

Hazel said...

I have always been the serious one out of my three sisters. The practical and responsible one. The one who doesn't do anything risky because it isn't smart. Not to say I haven't done a lot of fun and wild things in my life, but I've made choices on what I thought was right, not necessarily what I wanted. So I know how you're feeling! I feel like I grew up a little too fast, especially now that I've been out in the working world for 18 months.

Lacey Bean said...

It's funny, I act like a fool and am super immature in a lot of ways (mainly with Dave), but same as you, I've always gotten that I'm mature for my age. Never cause of looks, cause I still look fairly young, but because of how I acted and the responsibility I took on. I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact that I was an only child, and my parents and family always treated me on an equal level. I was never treated as a "kid", and I'm the oldest out of my cousins. Maybe that has something to do with it?

But thats random that a friend wrote that in your guestbook. I wouldnt know how to interpret that either!

bessie.viola said...

I am not at all on the "right track" for a person of my age. Like you, I am an old soul in this young body - it's so awesome to hear someone else who is the same way. My 8th grade teacher called me on it first, when I would abstain from all the drama of the girls in my grade - "You're just too old for this, inside," she told me.

She was right. She still is. I was married at 21 (GASP) and had my first baby this year at 24. I love my life and would trade it for nothing, although it can be awkward that many of my friends are still in school/doing the bar scene.

Keep on doing what feels right - there's nothing wrong with an old soul. :)

Julie said...

More often than not, I'm content to be where I am in life. I've always known what I wanted to do/be when I grew up and what I'm doing/being today is pretty accurate. It is good to be content and I'm glad you are so!

Viviane said...

I just admit I would have assumed you were a bit older than me, but I am only 25 so there's not that much of a difference. I have had my wild days but mostly I, like you, never was a stereotypical college student (and well, stereotypes are just that, stereotypes), and I don't miss it or regret it (I am still a college student). I think when it comes to certain things I'm more mature than some my age, and in other ways I am less mature. A friend of mine is 3 years older than I am, and she always says that with me she doesn't feel an age gap like with some others that are my age(and I agree, I don't feel it either). I do think there is such a thing as too mature, but as long as you are happy and have no regrets there is nothing wrong with feeling a little older than your birth certificate says.

maggie said...

People said that about me too (have stopped now that I am pushing 30, heh). I turned 24 a month after I got married, but I didn't see that as mature, so much as What The Hell Are We Thinking, Aren't We Too Young? But whatever. I was always super aware of being young and wanting the Grown Ups to think I wasn't. But I wasn't the type to 'act' young either, if you know what I mean. I've been this dull and boring since junior high.

Alice said...

i'm the opposite... i look younger than i am (although i think i'm finally catching up) so people DON'T take me seriously at work sometimes. a while ago at verisign, after completing a big project i'd been hired to help with, we were supposed to celebrate w/a happy hour, and apparently a separate email trail went around without me on it joking that i wasn't old enough to get into the bar. um.. i was 26.

so i suppose that means i get a free pass to act immature, because everyone already thinks i am young? or something? :-)

Cherish said...

This is a very loaded question for me. I had my first child when I was 18 and now at 25, Ive had three more. I was in a serious committed relationship for five years with their father and even though we never had a wedding, we always thought of ourselves as married. Anyway, I always had trouble relating to other people my age because I seemed to be living a life that was for people 5-10 years older than me.

My life has very much not been boring or the right way to do it and my parents have been horrified many, many times. And yet I still feel the same about being older than I really am.

Acutally now that Ive had the fourth baby, people actually say I look much younger than I am.

But with all that being said, I feel like I am way behind because I am single and want very much to be married and own a house and have a stable career. Im on my way to attaining those things, but I feel so far behind!

Saly said...

I've always been seen as "the older one" too. Case in point, I was the first and also the second of any of my friends to have a baby.

On the other hand though, at 30, I still feel like I'm 19 or 20.

sassafras said...

People always assume I'm much younger than I am based on my looks. In terms of my maturity, I think I'm more or less my age.

missris said...

Even though I'm 24 I know I look about 16. I think I act very mature but being back in school and on no set schedule really makes me feel like I'm about 19 again. I don't know if I'll ever get married and have kids but I think I'm ok with that--to each their own. I do wish I had "adult" dishes and appliances though--I'm so jealous that y'all are all set!

Ms. R said...

I have always been wise beyond my years. I got married at 24 too and I was very sure about that and all the other things I had accomplished by then - and in the years after. But, now - at 28 - I am starting to wonder if I rushed things just a bit. Not the marriage part, but the wanting to be settled and grown up part. This is part of why I am taking a little time off now.

ablogofherown.wordpress.com said...

I've just added you to my reader, and have only read the last few posts. That said, I definitely thought you were older than 24. Probably because of some of the reasons you stated. Your writing doesn't sound "young," if that makes sense. You know what you want and who you are and I suppose that makes it seem like you're older.

I have NO CLUE what I want, or who I am (to a certain extent) but I can relate on some level, I've always been told I act like I'm a lot older than my age. That whole oldest child maturity thing I guess.

CAQuincy said...

I have always looked young for my age, and just when I think my looks have started to "catch-up" to my age, I get a random comment of "You're so young to have three kids!" But I'm not.

I was somewhat of an "old soul" in college in that I didn't party and took my studies very seriously (and, nope, never drank to excess!). And when I met my future husband and got engaged at 19, I didn't feel I was rushing into anything (although we did wait to actually get married for a while).

I'm happy to have "settled down" at 19, and I'm happy to have had three kids before 32. But now that I'm 36 and kind of stuck in a job where I don't get to use my brain, I do sometimes feel that maybe I could have spent a bit more time on my career instead of taking whatever job "paid the bills for now." Being grown up and independent at an early age may have cost me some job happiness.

Yeah, the job me is in a rut, but the personal me is very, very happy.

Sooz said...

I used to rather people think I'm older than younger...no idea why. I'm almost 29 now and that theory of mine is fading quickly. Not that 30 is bothersome, but seriously 30? Me? Wow. I enjoy the fact that you are more mature than most 24 year olds. Definitely a compliment.

alyndabear said...

I've always felt (and been told) that I'm older than my years - and I'm the same age as you! I like to take it as a compliment, because maturity is something I value personally... let's just hope when we're 40, people aren't still saying we are older though! ;-)

Janssen said...

I am just the same way - even as a kid I felt much much older than others my age. And I like it.

Kat said...

Good Lord I hope I am on track, wink wink!! Honestly I am sort of slow and until today I never realized that you were 24. (I was going to say 'only 24' but I thought twice.) This makes you younger than my oldest child (ouch it hurt saying that outloud).

Whether you are an 'old soul' or a 'fine wine' I see you as really 'together' woman, one I would be happy to know in the real world!

Emblita said...

My grandmother always tells me- you are as old as you feel. I thought that was a great point. Since I actually feel like I'm getting younger :) I was a very serious tween/teen and didn't really start to relax until my late teens early twenties... but hey I also got married at 24! Haven't regretted it yet :)

LoriD said...

I don't know the answer to your question. I think most of the time people assume I'm younger than I am, but then they size up my life and my job and it brings them back to reality. I think I act my age, most of the time.

BS said...

What is expected of people my age? Marriage? Babies? Buying a home? Then no, I'm completely off-track. Totally, completely, entirely off-track. If it's taking that next career step, buying a car, and figuring out what I want in life, then yeah, I'm doing just fine.

I actually assumed (based on your writing alone) that you were in your late 20s like me. You do seem mature for your age.

well-intentioned heartbreaker said...

i've always, always felt older than my age.

i'm only 21, but being completely independent since i was 17 has definitely aged me. mostly in a good way. and while it seems awfully nice occasionally, i can't fathom life if i were still living at my parents home, or relying on their money, as so many of my high school friends still do.

i certainly do party hard, but i've always felt mature beyond my years.

SLynnRo said...

People always think I'm younger than I am. Mostly because I look it. And no one can ever believe I am old enough to be a lawyer.

the frog princess said...

I think it depends on who you ask / where you are.

Back home all of my friends are married, own houses, and nearly all of them have kids.

Here in NYC I only know one married couple (wait! two! I went to their wedding 2 weeks ago!), one person who owns her apartment, and one person with a baby (accidental).

Soooo...

I'm on track for where *I* want to be in my life. In the long run, that's what really matters.

Sizzle said...

I am 35 quickly going on 36 and people NEVER think I am that old. Most of the time people assume I am in my mid to late twenties. I am flattered and thankful for my Mom's youthful skin that I inherited. I hope they think I am younger because I am hip and youthful looking. . . not immature!

Lauchlin said...

Nobody has any idea how old I am. When I have a beard, like I do right now, people think I'm in my 30s. Last month, when I was clean shaven, I was regularly getting ID'd at liquor stores (and the drinking age is 17 here).

As for being where I'm supposed to be in life, I'm kind of brutally far behind in that respect.

Mel said...

I know what you mean. A lot of people at work don't know how old I am b/c I do a lot of my work over the phone to other offices and are surprised when they ask me "oh are you married?" No."Kids?" No. Not anytime soon.

Everyone thinks I am in my early thirties. It gets even odder when my clients come in and realize they have the kids of team running the show.

Better to be older than be younger right?

Swistle said...

I got married at 24, too! Our justice of the peace said he thought 24 was the perfect age: old enough to know what you're doing, young enough to not be too set in your single ways. Maybe he said that for every age, I don't know.

I'm sure glad I got started earlyish, though, because even so it's been difficult to have as many BABIES as I want!

Maxie said...

I think people at work think I'm older than I am but outside of work I act pretty young. I guess it's just all about balance.

Ami said...

Interesting post. I didn't know you were 24, and I would have guessed you were older also.

I definitely behave younger than I am. I still party and I never have food in the house and I take impulsive vacations and I still don't feel like I'm ready for kids. And inside I definitely feel like I'm still in Jr. High.

Princess Pointful said...

Yes and no. One of my biggest source of pride is that I got my Masters degree before I turned 25, and I am on track to be a psychologist before I'm 30, which isn't too shabby. However, that means I am behind on other things, like owning a house, or, hell, a car.

bren j. said...

Compared to about half my friends, I'm on track. The other half? Oi. I should be over in Asia teaching English, single and hating it, but rolling in more money than my present self is ever likely to see at one time. Sometimes, I regret not taking a slightly different path, but then naptime is over and the LG wakes up and the husband gets home from work and I'm once again surrounded by my (most of the time) domestic bliss. :)