Today, August 19th, 2009, marks the four-year anniversary of my relocation from Boston to San Francisco. I loved many things about Boston, but I was tired of the cold winters and the Seasonal Affective Disorder that I was (and still am) certain plagues the entire greater Boston area every year from November until April. I was also tired of all the flying back and forth between Boston and San Francisco to visit my family and friends. I wanted to be back in Northern California--back with my people.
I figured I would live in San Francisco (far enough away from my hometown for some healthy distance, close enough to easily go up for the weekend), start my career as a kindergarten teacher (little did I know I would end up pursuing a food-writing career instead...) and basically become an adult. What I didn't expect was for this whole growing up thing to be more confusing than puberty.
See, it seems that the term "grown-up" is now somewhat fluid. Sure, many of my friends have not only a job but the beginnings of a career--something they'd like to do for at least the next decade or so. Some of my friends are married, maybe with a kid or two. A small few own their homes. But I also have a whole lot of college-and-grad-school-educated friends who haven't the slightest idea what they are going to do with the rest of their lives--in terms of their careers or otherwise. Some of them live in apartments, some with their parents, and some are on a rotating cycle of friends' couches. And they're pretty OK with that.
When I was a child, I really thought it was going to be systematic. I figured I would graduate from college, decide what I wanted to do for a living, start doing it, fall in love, get married and have kids...all by the time I was, say, thirty. Given that that is in two-and-a-half years, it seems unlikely that I will make that deadline; while my career is surely taking off, it's not yet in full flight, and though I am sure the father of my future children is out there, as far as I know, I am not married to him.
But don't feel sorry for me. I don't think I qualify as a spinster just yet. Whatever that means.
My friend Carrie says that thirty is the new twenty. I might take that even further and say that there is simply no longer a standard definition of "grown-up" anymore. Most of my friends range in age from their mid-twenties to their late-thirties, but when it comes to how "adult" they are, at least according to my childhood view of adulthood, my friends are all over the map in terms of their respective careers, relationships, financial stability, and emotional health.
It can be hard when there's no standard to compare yourself to. As humans, I think we feel compelled to keep up with our peers, but when my friends are all in different places, that becomes impossible. As a result, I'm forced to attempt a truly adult feat and look within myself to determine where I want to be and decide exactly how I am going to get there.
That I can at least start doing before I turn thirty.