What is being a grown up? How do you act your age?
Well the obvious answer is that you don’t. You just be who you be! Still, I get confused by it all. I’m fortunate to be told I don’t look 51 and since I’ve no intention of acting it (whatever IT might be) what’s the problem?
I, like most people as they get older still feel 23 inside, even though those days have clearly come and gone in the cold light of day. Over the years, I have gone from someone who was afraid of my own voice, to someone who feels the fear but says it anyway! I think I come across as strong, assertive and confident, but it’s all an act; it’s the learned ability to put on a brave face, right foot forward and stand up for what I believe. Inside, I’m a quivering wreck, wishing I could disappear behind the sheets in my bunkbed hideaway. That’s what getting older has done for me. It has made me someone who can front out the difficult times and blag their way through life with a bravado that people believe.
Being a grown up is just a big game of smoke-and-mirrrors.
When I’m home alone, I’m singing into the vacuum hose and leaping about to my favourite 80’s/90’s tunes. I still watch old DVDs of Ren & Stimpy and find them hilarious, even after the 157th viewing! I love (crunchy) peanut butter sandwiches and playing on the floor with my dog. I’d happily throw myself into a ball park and dive around screaming ‘Bazinga!’ if there was one around here. It’s almost as if I’m Benjamin(a) Button and the older I get, the more I regress.
And yet after all of that, I get up every weekday morning and make my way into a highly pressurised working environment; maintaining a professional and decisive demeanour. I’m sitting at my desk dealing with aggro and incompetence. Benjamina is lounging in front of a dinosaur movie, eating donuts and deciding which fancy dress costume to create for next weeks party.
It takes me ages to get ready to go out these days. Not because I’m perfecting my contouring, but because I’m still entrenched in Benjamina’s dress style, which makes it difficult to wear what she considers ‘grown up’ attire. I love the idea of gliding into a bar looking all gauche and elegant, but after a few twirls in front of the mirror in that dress it’s a brisk march back to the wardrobe and into the the old ‘tried and trusted’. Benjamina loves jeans and heavy jumpers; good for a night out at the local pub – not quite the get up for a sophisticated bar.
Benjamina craves to go to music festivals and dance until 5am, crowd surf at a sweaty gig, or sit up watching the sun rise with partygoers on a beach in some exotic location. She wants to do more and more exciting things to put some distance between her and the acceptance of boring middle age and grown up-ness. Although she only lives in my head, she is real – she is Me – and the influence she exerts is strong.
This resistance to embrace Maturity is like a wall which I don’t know how to breach. With Benjamina as strong as ever in my psyche, I just can’t seem to feel like a bonefide grown up although I competently act the part in the outside world. I’m independent, have a good job, am a home-owner and moving through life making my own decisions, but still feel like I’m pretending.
Maybe being grown up is just an exercise in keeping our individual Benjamina’s in line – just some are better at it than others.