I’ve always been one of those old souls in a young person’s body. You know the kind?
My 20s have not consisted of parties, drinks, or bars. My 20s — so far — have consisted of books and blogs and babies. My 20s have been grad school, a wedding, weight loss, and home owning. My 20s have been antique shopping, early bed times, and occasional late nights…. reading. You know, old lady style.
I often see people my age — 27 — doing all the things I’ve always thought I should be doing: going out late into the night, drinking, partying, and not being tied down by a mortgage, living in a cozy apartment instead. I see fellow 20-somethings traveling and getting the chance to be the good kind of selfish for a little while. I see young newlyweds exploring the world and spending their money doing so, while Jerry and I didn’t do much of that at all since we got pregnant and bought a house a mere six months after getting married. And we planned it this way. Starting a family and owning a home were and are two of the most important things to us, but I can’t help but wondering sometimes: am I missing out?
I always thought I should be spending my 20s out at the bars instead of with books.
I always thought I should be spending my 20s partying instead of writing.
I always thought I should be spending my 20s traveling instead of raising a family.
I always thought I should be spending my 20s apartment hopping instead of renovating my 1960s home.
But that’s just the thing — I always THOUGHT I was wrong, but I never felt I was wrong. We THINK we need to live up to expectations but we only need to live up to OURS. We THINK we need to do what everyone else is doing… but we don’t.
In high school, my friends and I never had plans to sneak out or drink. We spent our nights filming movies and playing board games instead. We had the time of our lives and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I look back at that time and can only smile.
In college, I spent one semester away from home. I started pledging a sorority to make friends and spent many late nights out roaming the campus, completing ridiculous tasks. The entire time, I felt completely uncomfortable. The thoughts running through my mind consisted mostly of, “can’t I just go to bed?” and “I’d much rather be reading.” Everyone else was laughing while I was just pretending.
And for the record, I quit that sorority the very day we were to be initiated in. I went home for winter break and I went back to that school ONLY to gather my belongings and move back home to commute to a local college instead. I dreamed and fantasized about going away to college, living it up, acting my age for once in my life, but the reality was… I hated it. It wasn’t me. I sat in my room alone and I watched “Rent” and called my mom crying on the daily. Instead of eating in the cafeteria with friends, like I always thought I would, I got the take-out sandwich every day, brought it back to my room, and ate alone, crying over turkey and chips. I THOUGHT I was supposed to love the college life but I hated it.
I have no crazy drunk night stories to tell, but I could talk your ear off about all the music videos and hilarious movies my friends and I concocted. I have no sorority sisters or college besties, but I spend most evenings with my mom and baby while Jerry works, and we go out thrifting and watch trashy TV. There are a lot of things from my 20s that I don’t have, but I have my family, my friends that I’ve had since age 12, a house that I love and dream about renovating, and a vast and varied book collection sure to impress any bibliophile.
I no longer dream about who I should be and what I should be doing. These days, I spend Friday nights with my baby and my books and my bed. I spend Saturday nights enjoying “family fun night,” a weekly dinner at my parent’s house. I don’t go out after work. Instead, I take my baby to music class where we clap and sway and dance and sing. He laughs and he lights up and I know I am where I am supposed to be.
I know now: I never missed a thing.