Today I strapped the boys into the jogging stroller and set out on a quest to make them nap. I ran by a high school where the girls track team was running laps. I ran on the sidewalk parallel to their track, thinking to myself, “we’re not all that different.” Sure, they all had long ponytails to my short mom bob. They had young, agile bodies whose biggest complaint is whatever they last ate. They were probably thinking about the boys they liked and worrying if they looked good. I was just trying to make it up the hill, aware that I looked terrible and not ashamed in the slightest.
Somewhere in my comparisons I realized we aren’t as alike as I’d like to think. I realized that I have more in common with their moms than I do with them. Although I remember that age like it was yesterday, it was far from yesterday. It was half my lifetime ago. Here I am now, closer to forty than twenty. I often feel like I’m a young woman like these other ones, but I’m not. Although there is only a decade between 22 and 32, there might as well be four decades. In these ten years we mature exponentially as we lose our selfishness and spontaneity and settle into responsibility.
The people I work with are all twenty-two or younger. I do the work of a much younger person, but with a little more decorum than I would have done it ten years ago. One calls me their counselor, not because I’m wise, presumably, but rather because I’m old. To them, I might as well be ancient. The customers seem to appreciate me, though, seeing in me a familiar soul. We share some knowledge that the young have yet to learn, some perspectives they have not yet seen.
Having more in common with the senior citizens who spend their mornings in the lobby than I do with my fellow baristas should make me feel old; but even though my body is aging and time keeps marching on, there is something inside of me still reminiscent of my younger self. I am not always rational or balanced or mature. I am often impulsive and emotional and maybe even delusional.
Perhaps I feel young because I still have dreams like the young do. I haven’t found a career I love or come to terms with the fact that what I’ve done is all I will do from here on out. I have so many ambitions and plans that I refuse to let go of. I have not settled enough yet to let go of what I want. I will keep working until I make it there. And once I make it there, I’ll keep working until I get to what I want then. One thing I never let go was my stubbornness, which means I still have the tenacity and ambitions of a much less weathered girl. I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow it.