Featured Image: My “b-day” balloon in the trash after my 26th birthday party.
Title: From Blink-182’s What’s My Age Again?. My other working titles were “Feelin‘ 22 but I’m Turning 26″ (was afraid Swift would sue me) and “Losing My Health Insurance” (a bit on Losing My Religion).
So it’s officially been a year since I lost my (albeit suckish) office job, and since then I’ve worked two part-time jobs that are not unlike, and by “not unlike” I mean almost identical, to the jobs I had at age 22 after graduating college.
I worked at the same assisted living for a few months, and this summer I’ve been doing camp for kids (no LEGOs this time, thank god). And when I was 22, the age difference between my coworkers and I was either nonexistent or close enough to not feel too old. But the thing about high school girls is I keep getting older, and they stay the same age. And so I’m still working with teenagers, which now is much bigger of a difference. I try to relate to them, but there are just things I simply can’t. I don’t have schoolwork, I don’t stay up late hanging out with friends (often, at least), and I simply do not have the same amount of energy or cartilage in my knees. Some days it reminds me of my youth, and some days it just makes me feel old.
And while I work with teenagers, my friend group skews closer to 30. It makes being 26 very confusing. Who do I relate to more, Gen Z or Millennials? I still remember how to party, but I also have a 401k. I don’t use “slay” but I grew up saying “swag,” (and it’s essentially the same thing). I can’t for the life of me understand “Be Real,” but I was a teenager once, too, in the dawn of Snapchat. I’m on TikTok and Instagram, but I’m also still on Facebook and Tumblr. I succumbed to high waisted pants, but I look ugly with a middle part.
I feel 18 when I’m hanging out at work gossiping, and I feel 26 when my back hurts from standing all day. I feel 22 when I’m drinking at a bar with friends, and I feel 26 when I go home to my single-bedroom apartment that I pay way too much for. I feel 21 when I remember I, too, am a sucker for Big Tobacco and am addicted to my vape, and I feel 26 when I found out no one uses Juul anymore. I feel 15 when I’m seeing A Day To Remember for the first time since Warped Tour ‘11, and feel 26 when my knees start to give out while I’m in the pit.
Some days, I just feel like a child in an old lady’s body— my mind is still figuring things out, but my body says please for the love of god sit down before your joints collapse. (Of course, it doesn’t help that my health took a turn this year— reminding me that youth is fleeting and cartilage doesn’t grow back).
For a week in August because of the heat, I stayed at my parents’ house. I was meant to only go Monday to Wednesday, but I stayed Sunday to Sunday… because it never felt like I needed to leave (and it was still hot as hell). Why did I need to go back to my apartment when I have a home here? Other times I’ve stayed over I felt this anxiety about going “home”… but this time I already felt like I was. I’ve drifted back to 22 year-old Andria who still has a twin-size mattress that was pushed against the wall, that ate all her meals with her parents, who bothered her brother while he was playing video games, who didn’t have her own TV to watch so she couldn’t watch her shows, who used her mother’s hairbrush and tweezers when she couldn’t find hers, who went to work with children and came home exhausted to parents who’d make her dinner.
When I finally returned to my apartment, I moved my bed back into the corner of my bedroom. When I first moved in, my mom convinced me to have it centered, with my bedside table in the corner, so that both sides of the bed would be accessible. It made sense to me; it was more grown-up, plus crawling over someone in the middle of the night to go pee sucks. But I haven’t had anyone in my bed since January, and I don’t plan on anyone being in there anytime soon. So I moved it to the corner, as I had it in my childhood bedroom. And now I’ve got more space in my room, but it makes me feel… less grown-up.
I’m not where I’d like to be life-wise, but it’s impossible to compare where I am to either my 18-year-old coworkers or my 30-year-old friends. And really I shouldn’t be comparing myself at all, but it’s hard not to. I see people getting married or having kids or people with good jobs who get time to travel and buy houses. I am neither a 30-year-old with my shit together nor an 18-year-old who still has time to figure it out.
I’ve had to give up on that timeline we all gave ourselves as teenagers; Graduate college at 21, get a job at 22, get a pet and a significant other by 24, engaged by 27, married before 30, kids before 32. But there is no timeline (besides the ticking time bomb that is The Uterus). You can’t compare your timeline to people who have more resources than you, or better luck, or even someone who worked really hard to get where they are, because they might not have had the same obstacles as you did. Some people won’t have student loans burdening them. Some people know a guy who knows a guy who’ll get them a good job. Some people are lucky enough to get set up by their friend (my like parents) and meet the love of their life. Some people rolled a nat20 for health and don’t deal with mental or physical health issues.
I don’t feel like my age, but I also don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. Where am I supposed to be? How much am I supposed to know and do? Am I capable or incapable of being an adult?
I am, in fact, in the “fucking around and finding out” phase, and it’s downright awful. I have my days where I’m embarrassed by the state of my microwave because I can’t get my shit together enough to clean it, and I have my days where I get a million things done and make a bunch of phone calls and pay bills and organize my files and locate my 401k and I think I’ve got it. You fuck around long enough and you find out that you gotta get certain things done or you’re fucked.
I find myself chanting in my head “You’re fine” and “Everything will be okay,” and some days I convince myself, and some days I don’t. Either way, it is what it is, I’ll figure it out eventually.
Just realized I haven’t actually posted in over a month, despite having 3 blog posts in my notes app. Sorry, I kept convincing myself they sucked but they just needed to be edited! This was written before I turned 26, and edited after I turned 26.
Also, my mom cleaned my microwave for my birthday. My greatest embarrassment came true when she looked in there and was like Andria have you *never* cleaned this and I admitted I tried, briefly, and just didn’t know how. And so she showed me. And now I know.