I have many pictures of family and friends hanging in my cube. One is of me and my high school best friend. It was Spring Break 2003, and I am just 18. The other was taken last week of me and someone I love.
The pictures hang next to each other, and I can’t help comparing the two. The toothy grin and hair color are the same, but my face is fuller in the second picture. I am not as thin as I was in college. My hair is slightly more sophisticated, and I wear a little more makeup. In the first picture I look…younger.
Of course I look younger. The picture was taken nearly ten years ago. But sometimes it’s hard to see just how much you’ve changed until you compare yourself to an old photograph. I wear more make-up now than in my fresh-faced college years (but not TOO much makeup. I don’t like looking like one of those old ladies who want to sell you expensive makeup at the mall). For years, I could see only incremental changes when looking at old photographs of myself. Now, I think, “…oh. I actually am starting to look my age.”
If I go on a college campus, I no longer feel like I can blend in the crowd. Don’t get me wrong; people still confuse me for being younger than I am, which is a genetic blessing. But I feel different when I’m on a college campus. I no longer feel like I can go incognito. I feel…old.
I know I’m still technically young, but I’m two years away from thirty. There are small lines appearing under my eyes and around my lips – “laugh lines,” I suppose (or frown lines, depending on the day). Stubborn white hairs insist on growing even if I try to dye or pluck them away.
I feel so much older, especially throughout the past couple of months. This year has been full of joys that I hadn’t been expecting (wait, that sentence makes me sound like I’m pregnant or something. Let me say – no.) But it’s also been full of tension, stress, frustration, and anxiety, much of it self-imposed.
It’s not like I have a dangerous job that adds to the stress and worry. Sure, my job can be stressful at times, but I sit in a cube in front of a computer all day. It’s not like I’m a first responder or anything.
I look older and I just feel older. I feel more mature in many aspects. A good friend noted this as we were having one of those long discussions that friends have after a particularly nasty argument. “You’re being really mature about all this,” he said, and he sounded almost surprised that I could be that mature. I find myself changing my ways of thinking and analyzing situations. I try and strive to be more pragmatic, logical, to react without letting my emotion get to me first. It’s a tricky battle and not one I always win.
And yet, for all this supposed maturation, I still feel so young sometimes. I still struggle to find the optimum budget. I got pulled over a month or two ago and issued two warnings – one for speeding, and one for having a car registration expired for two months…and even after all that, I JUST got my registration renewed last Friday (you can expect a blog on that misadventure in the future). I did my taxes on MONDAY NIGHT. I try and do the right thing, and still end up hurting someone without even trying.
I want to be a proficient musician. I want to be a good writer. I want to enjoy running again (which is finally starting to happen). I want to be intelligent. I want to be a hard worker. I want to be a good daughter, a loyal friend, a loving girlfriend. I try so hard to be everything and sometimes I’m too exhausted and incapable to succeed.
I was talking to my mother yesterday about various worries and concerns, and she said, “You take life too seriously.” My mother. You don’t want to hear that from your parents. Parents are supposed to tell you to get with it, Jennifer Nicole, to pay attention and get your shit together (which is what my father would say regardless).
And on that note, I end this entry.