Monday, February 26, 2007

Age Neurosis

My husband was unusually un-neurotic about his birthday; he took it with calm equanimity and lots of cake.

I, on the other hand, am FLIPPING OUT.

I've always gotten age-neurotic on weird birthdays -- 16 and 18 didn't bother me, but 17 threw me for a loop, because in my head when I was younger, that was the age when the teenaged movie dream life was all supposed to come together. 21 and 25 were no biggie, but 27 I seriously almost had a breakdown, becuase 27 was, in my head, the arbitrary age where one becomes an adult and I was clearly not an adult. This is also ridiculous because at 27 I was married, owned a home, had two cats, two advanced degrees, and was starting my own business -- how many more accoutremounts of adulthood did I need? But I didn't feel like a "grown-up," whatever that is.

I actually turn 29 next month, but my husband turning 30 has thrown me into this total crisis, like, "Oh my God, these numbers are LARGE. We're only 10 years from 40!" Which seems impossible, because it is clear to me in my head that my parents are about 40, maybe 45 tops, and how can I be catching up to them? This is part of the problem: the people who, in my head, are adults keep getting older, so the bar keeps moving. I have a very hard time realizing that I'm now part of that club, not confined to the kiddie table.

I keep thinking, Shouldn't I have DONE something by now? Isn't 30 an age where people had already, like, engineered a revolution (Thomas Lynch of South Carolina was 27 when he signed the Declaration of Independence) or had 10 children to work the farm or died of tuberculosis or something? (And should I stop reading so much history in order to realign my expectations with the year 2007?)

It's all entirely ridiculous because 30 is like a 1/3-rd life crisis, if anything, and since I'm a brain-laborer, not a brawn-laborer, my most productive years are clearly still ahead of me -- maybe quite some distance ahead of me. I've only been out of school three years in May!

I feel a little stupid, because I warned my husband that he was not allowed to be neurotic about his 30th birthday, and here I am, having a total breakdown about it -- and it's not even my birthday.

Part of the problem is that when you think about "the future" when you're in school (and remember, I was in school until I was twenty-six), you pretty much get to marriage (or not), children (or not), and first job with a hazy picture of future progression in your profession. I just have never had any picture in my head of what life would look like at 40 or 50 or 60, and I seem to have run out of the pictures I'd been using up until now. The mental projector needs a new roll of film loaded.

So everyone go ahead and mock away and tell me I'm far too young to be freaking out about age, because of course you are all quite right, but I'll just sit here and quietly panic all the same.


Brad Carter said...

30 was a big one for me too. I realized I could no longer say "I'm twenty sievet". You know, jumble the numbers together real quick. But THIRTY! There is no hiding that. Then 31 was like crap, I'm one year closer to 40! 33 and 34 I don't even remeber though. I breezed through them both. I'm sure 35 will make me go all squirly. It's funny thing about age, just yesterday I was a whole year younger than I am today. I say if you want to freak out, then freak out.

Vieva said...

makes sense to me.

When people ask me my age, I want to stare at them blankly and say "21" or some other low number. And I'm 30. And I'm not even deliberately lying .. it's just how did I get so old?

Sometimes I think we should all just stay at the kiddy table ... :D

Anonymous said...

Ok, All I can say is I now feel older after reading that, thank you very much ;)

Seriously, I know the feeling, 40 did a number on me when I hit it a couple years ago. I can't be that old!

LyricFox said...


You need to look at b-days the way my mom does. She said the only ones that count or that she worries about end in either a 0 or 5.

She says it's MUCH easier to just worry about those. :)


ComW said...

or you can just count the numbersin your age - your no older than me - you cant possibly be are ages have the same number of numebrs in them. (then again i've been in denial since i turned 10)

ComW said...

Need to learn to type though - 25 years and I'm no better at it than I was when I started