So it was my birthday last week. I’ve pretty much spent the months leading up to every birthday from 22 on (21 was obviously a milestone I was excited for, I had been living in Canada but since a family trip to Disney World when I was 11 it’s always been my dream to drink responsibly in Epcot Center) suffering roving bouts of crippling despair. Starting around March each year, my birthday is in June, I’d have moments where I was just sitting in the car, or watching TV, and I would feel my brain clamp down and go “you’re turning 23. you’re turning 24. you’re turning 25.” It was like watching a dog lock its jaws down and shake its prey. I just felt so defeated. This would happen a few times a week until I got about 72 hours removed from my actual birthday and then it was just full on, constant turmoil and sobbing. I forgot to make a birthday wish while blowing out my candles multiple years because I was just so consumed in how sad I was.
Not this year. I just felt nothing. No months long run up of self-criticism, or crying binges. It just happened. I think it’s because I turned 27, and consciously/subconsciously 27 has always been the number I associated with old. 26, you could still go on Spring Break, 27 is unavoidably adult. My Mom got married at 27, good musicians die at 27.
I mean, it’s not real. I can’t count how many conversations I have with my friends that hinge on still feeling like teenagers. I look at us and we look like kids, even the ones who are married with children, I doubt anyone could accurately determine their age within a decade. There’s so much talk of the recession/millennials/living at home that I can’t stand to hear about it anymore (and also because I don’t know how the people writing these articles can be such self-righteous cunts at 35, when they barely avoided the “millennial” fate themselves.)
But I guess 27 hung heavy on me. I was always a really unhappy kid, then an unhappy middle schooler, and an unhappy high schooler, and then a college student that found her perfect school and her perfect city and her perfect friends and desperately tried to be happy but couldn’t because late adolescence combined with the massive stress of that perfect school was the perfect petri dish to kick some mental illness into high gear, and when you’re a reasonably well put together young, young woman who obviously has a high strung, type-A personality to begin with (how else would you get into that school) people who aren’t hired for their empathy are quick to tell you your crippling depression is just overly high standards and PMS.
I feel like every era in my life was a checkpoint with one goal, attain happiness while you are still young, so you can claim, by technicality, you enjoyed your youth. It didn’t happen. Everything was so much more elusive and complicated and just plain harder to fix than I thought it would be. I thought I could take a wrecking ball to a house, and I’m still here peeling off paint chips with my bare hands.
So it’s been nice, these six days of being 27. My worst fear came true, even it was an admittedly kind of a stupid fear. At least it’s done, it can’t be hanging over my head if it’s already happened. I think this is the first time in my life where I don’t have a “plan,” my version of plan, of course, being a admittedly hysterical, flailing attempt to control how things play or don’t play out. I don’t have to think about how if I don’t do this, or learn that, or gain some weird unquantifiable proficiency at something else, or the worst, attain some feeling, everything will be a total write-off. That should be nice.
Yeah, I don’t know how to end this.