I like to think experience teaches us something. That I make wise decisions now I have been and seen a bit more than my younger self. Lived with the consequences of that thoughtless moment where I voiced my opinion, or had that next bottle, or left with a flourish. Consequences, such a grown up idea. But I also lived with the results of getting it right, bagging the pay rise, having old friends. I know what suits me, what it costs, what a deadline is and who I can count on. So far so good.
Is this being a grown up? Having done stuff and having got some of right and some of it wrong I now make clear and correct decisions at any (or some) given moment/s?
Frankly mistakes still happen. Of course, I am better at listening in silence, putting my glass down, and smiling through boredom. But not every day. I’m a fossil not a magician. But us fossils – well all this action can be quite tiring. And sometimes I just can’t be bothered with another meeting/drinks/project. SO maybe we make fewer mistakes because we can’t be bothered to go into as many mistake making arenas… That’s not as strategic as knowing it’s not going to happen so best to stay in, away or vague. But it is honest.
But do you feel different to that 23 year old who wants to be a rock star and fill a stadium? I didn’t actually want to be a rock star. I wanted to be a backing singer. Just listen to Here Comes the Mirror Man or Paradise by the Dashboard Light. The lead singer is working bloody hard. And the tambourine rattling backers do all the oohs and ahs and – well bits of singing – all the best bits in my mind. And they are up there. In the stadium on the stage. Singing. Knowing all the words. Jigging about. At the after party. Perfect life. So I thought.
The flaw to this idea was that sadly I can’t sing. If you gave me that microphone I could clear the stadium without anyone having to say please make your way to the exit. It would just be clear. The stadium. If I sang to it. So I gave up that dream/idea and flitted on. I don’t even do karaoke. Singing is reserved for the privacy of my own car. Know thy limitations. Mind you my children slept through the night from 8 weeks old because they instinctively knew that the only way to get me to stop singing to them was to do what I wanted. Konk out. For hours. No skill is wasted. It is just that you need to find the right application of it.
So yes I would say that is a grown up. A bit of realism. Of course we settled. We compromised. Gave up dreams (however vague). Mostly. Used our skills wisely. Adults (grown ups) do that. But do I mind. Do I still want to be at the back, by the piano with a tambourine. Of course I do. But to quote a rocking fossil – “You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and when to run.”
I wouldn’t be, say 23, again for a zillion pounds. But I do love to hear how they see and think. Their ideas and plans and energy. They think they are so grown up. I see them as infants. And I am slightly irritated that they don’t realise they can do anything and hold the world in their hands. If they ever put that phone down and made time to study their hands. I too remember thinking I had arrived as a grown up at that age. What did I know.
So we don’t actually grow up then. We just think we do. Or have. Worse perhaps is that we think we should. Or that it just happens automatically and there is nothing we can do. Is it the terminology that is off? I am an adult. Capable of much and not so capable of many things. I am not necessarily a sensible, strategic thinking grown up with the right shoes, answers and credentials. Who wants to be. Not a rocking fossil. As an adult I can buy alcohol and cigarettes, drive and vote. Buy glue and knives and spray paint. Pay more for tickets. Go places without an adult. Not really fussed about any of those supposed advantages. Well I quite like driving. As I am happy to drink alcohol that other people buy it’s really just the driving then.
In fact being a grown up is entirely optional. So over rated. And maybe a sprightly 80 year old looks at me as an infant. How fabulous is that? Best thought I have had all day. So when I am exhausted by being a grown up with all that deciding and working and being in charge I should just go and see someone who thinks of me as an infant. And get on with what I want to do – because the young and old – don’t actually care what I do. They might not buy tickets to my show and even squeal in horror if I put my favourite playlist on but they don’t really care.
So do we grow up? Is being 23 or 53 or 83 different? How is that song? Are you singing? Ever? Did the shoulds, musts and got tos take over and never let up. Or have you carved a life you enjoy, people you love, ability to care for yourself and anyone you need to. To laugh at dawn and sunset. When you can. I can still make terrible decisions, have that next bottle, speak when silence would be best and exit with a flourish (of sorts). I still sing. Not necessarily into the night. And certainly not in front of anyone I wish to impress.
So rock that age whatever it is. You fabulous fossil. Growing up optional.