When I was a kid (some would argue that at 23 years old I am still very much a kid, but for our purposes let's define this as high school and below), I was constantly ruminating on adulthood. Where would I live? What would I look like? Who would my friends be? What would I do for a living?
Even though I can fill these in based on my life now (Boston; no taller; made new and kept old; making PDFs), I also thought these things would somehow define my adult life, instead of be fluid and tertiary factors in my identity. For example, when you play MASH, you fill out the picture from your results, not the other way around: I drive a shopping cart, I'm rich, I live in a house and I'm married to Max Theiriot. This is everything you need to know. But what you drive and where you live and the fact that you married the second-hottest cast member of Catch That Kid does not tell you whether you've learned to cook, do your taxes, or have found any kind of purpose now that you can buy beer.
I can't help but feel, all in all, that I was mislead about adulthood. So here are some things I assumed would be more important in my adult life:
1. Going from "day to night"
The main selling point of every beauty product I was too young to purchase seemed to be the magical promise of taking you from busy work day into social evening shenanigans. In reality, going home and taking a nap or shower in between activities is one of the real pleasures of adulthood.
2. Cursive writing
This seems to be less of a mislead than a generational gap - while every family member over forty sends me exquisitely loopy and connected birthday wishes, I have yet to meet anyone under forty who doesn't start sweating when confronted with a cursive capital. Seriously, what is with that Q??
3. Branded clothing
Shout out to marketing on this one - it is very easy to believe, based on books and television, that having the right brand of clothing was the key to social success. At fifteen, was easy to assume that owning something from North Face was a stepping stone to greatness. And while this is somewhat rooted in fact (one only has to take a look at the ugliest shoes ever created to understand the importance of a brand name), I also couldn't tell you what brand most of my adult clothing is, besides the fact that it must have come in size small and price cheap. Or size large, because it may be for children.
4. Wearing my retainer
Sorry Mom and Dad.
5. Keeping track of all of my "favorites"
Every little kid has a favorite color (even if it's "rainbow"). Ask an adult their favorite color, and, well....Monty Python showed us how that one goes. I remember making meticulous lists of my favorite things in the beginnings of all my journals. And while this could have been an attempt to squeeze some form of concrete self out of the messy adolescent ooze that was my unformed personality, it also can be seen as what we would now call "personal branding".
6. Being on time
Coming to the realization that most events do not actually start on time was one of the weirdest things for me to come to terms with. Luckily, I am very adept at sitting in my car or in a cafe two feet away from where I am supposed to be when I show up 40 minutes early because I was anxious about traffic. Showing up with coffee to every event may give the impression that I am hopelessly caffeine addicted (true) when in fact I just needed somewhere to sit while I contemplated my life choices. Come to think of it, I never anticipated the capitalistic hellscape that involves needing to pay for a drink just to be able to sit somewhere for a few minutes, but here we are.
You may have seen recently that Apple is killing its darling. This is a scenario I truly never saw coming.
My friends and I used to manage our iTunes libraries like a stockbroker's portfolio. The hours spent making playlists and burning CDs, the illicit downloading of tracks and finding the right album artwork to make it look better on our iPod nano screens, the thrill of the iTunes gift card - all faded into obsolescence. I had always imagined that my new and sophisticated music choices would sit on the virtual shelf next to the first album I ever bought for myself, Green Day's American Idiot. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "That it will never come again / Is what makes life so sweet".