Acting My Age

Well hello there!

I had a conversation with my best friend this past weekend that really sparked the writer in me. She mentioned that with the situation she is in, she can't "act her age" and I couldn't understand that statement. What does that even mean and should I be feeling the same way? Am I missing out on something huge or is this just portrayed to us through TV and movies? I really thought about it and came up with this.

I had an absolute fear of turning 20. To me 20 meant that I couldn't be the least bit irresponsible. It meant that I had to get my life together right that instant or else I would never do anything meaningful with it. It meant that I should have figured out what I want to do for the next 45 years of my life. It meant that I had to work 3 jobs to be able to afford to just live. It meant that every conversation I would have with strangers should be me networking, regardless of having no career path planned out. It basically meant that I went from being 10 without a single responsibility in the world to 50 with a career, kids, house, mortgage, bills, debt, and any other possible responsibility on my shoulders. 

I remember looking up to 20 as this pivotal age where everything changed and my life would suddenly be different. 20 year olds always seemed so old, even at 18 when there was only 2 years difference. They carried themselves differently, they spoke differently, they looked older. There was this whole wonder around it that I just didn't want to happen to me. And all those mystical thoughts revolved around never being an age with the word "teen" in it again and because of what's been portrayed on TV.

I didn't spend my teenage years going to parties, getting drunk, trying drugs or testing my parents in this massive rebellion. I stayed in, spent time with my family and worked at doing well in school. Yeah I went out with friends but often it was to get ice cream or go for a drive. I didn't go to parties until I had graduated from high school and even then it was maybe 4 by time I left for university. I wasn't "acting my age" then like everyone else but to be honest I really didn't enjoy doing those kinds of things and I still don't. 

I've been called "mature for my age" for so long I can't even remember the first time someone said it to me. So why did 20 feel like this pivotal age when I couldn't be irresponsible any longer? I was never irresponsible in the first place, at 19 I'd been paying my own bills and buying my own things. I had a job that I worked hard at and was willing to devote myself to. I wasn't in school like my friends so my days were spent working or looking for jobs that offered me more hours. And then I turned 20, switched jobs, worked even harder at that job until I couldn't drown myself in it any longer, switched again and turned 21.

20 wasn't this unicorn land that made everything change. It didn't have this mystical flip in my life where I'd suddenly figured my life out. It was just a continuation of 19, as 21 is of 20. I've learned that bills should always come first, it's nice to have savings but its totally okay to spend the money you've earned, and that it's awesome to have material things but spending money on concerts with your friends is much more memorable. Yeah I've become more responsible, but am I "acting 21"?

I can't answer that because I don't understand what it means. Am I supposed to be out partying while barely maintaining an education and paying for nothing only to be slapped in the face with it once I leave school? Or am I not supposed to be working my butt off to pay for my bills while putting some away and paying off my debt that I've managed to accumulate? What am I supposed to be doing at 21 that I'm missing out on? I honestly don't think I'm doing anything wrong at 21 that I'll look back on when I'm 50 and regret it all. 

I'm building my life up, I'm doing fun things, I'm learning about myself, I'm pretty independent, and if that isn't considered acting my age, it really doesn't bother me to not be doing so.

I'm not saying this to tell anyone off for "acting their age" by doing things that I simply just don't enjoy doing. I'm writing this because I am extremely confused by the statement and an explanation as to why I can't feel empathetic to those who are upset that they can't act their age.

What does acting your age mean to you?

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