I don’t feel like a man.
I just turned 23 a week ago…it should have taken by now. I’ve had plenty of legal signifiers: I could vote, buy tobacco, and go to real-person jail at 18. I could buy alcohol at 21. There aren’t really any landmarks left. Except at 25, and I don’t think being able to rent a car without a surcharge is going to do much to improve my feelings of manliness.
I passed 21 years ago, I’m graduated from college, I’m living away from my parents, I’m paying all my bills, and I still feel like a kid.
That’s not to say I haven’t matured. I’ve matured a lot, I know that…but it doesn’t feel like I’ve reached adulthood.
And perhaps in some ways, I haven’t.
Physically, I still feel like a child. I’m more fit than I’ve ever been, but I’m not as trim or muscular as I’d like to be. At six feet even (maybe six-one), I know I’m a fairly tall fellow, but I don’t feel tall. I feel like everyone else is just short. In my mind’s eye, I’m still shorter than many people I tower over.
I cook like a child. My pantries are full of Pasta-Roni, macaroni and cheese, and instant soups. My fridge is full of microwavable dinners and lunch meat. It’s a rare day that I make a meal that takes more than 15 minutes of prep time.
I live like a child. I sleep when I want to, I stay up late playing video games and reading comic books (“Mo-omm, they’re called graphic novels.“).
My glasses make me feel like a child. I feel more adult when I take my glasses off, for some reason. I’ve considered getting contacts, but couldn’t convince my eyeballs that it was a good idea.
I have a child’s job. Half of my coworkers are high-schoolers, and even some of my supervisors are younger than I am. My work clothes are khakis and a T-shirt. My job is meant to be filled by people who only take orders, and my moments of initiative are met with chidings and criticisms.
I approach relationships like a child. I feel like a shy little boy waiting on the far side of the room for the pretty girl to walk over and talk to me…and when she doesn’t, I go off on rants that are the adult equivalent of “Girls are stupid and gross.”
I write like a child. I tell myself that it doesn’t necessarily matter what other people think…that my writing can have value even if I’m the only one who recognizes it. But the real reason I write is to get a response…a positive one. Without that response, I start to question its value.
For 20-odd years, I have let myself be defined and evaluated by other people: my parents, my teachers, my bosses, my friends. I’m ready to be who I want to be and be happy about that.
When I was a child, I thought like a child, spoke like a child, reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put these childish things away. – 1 Corinthians 13:11