For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been keeping a journal since I was nine. While I’m not sure what prompted such a young child to write (my biggest concern was usually what after-school snack I was going to eat), I nonetheless developed the habit of scribbling down my thoughts on a semi-consistent basis. I now have shelves full of these tomes, most of which contain musings on my angst-ridden teenage existence.
Melodrama aside, there are also many entries where I speculated about The Future and its unknown variables that I was struggling to define. It seemed that at every turn, I attempted to steer myself in a more “normal” direction and was consistently finding that adulthood wasn’t turning out as planned.
Case in point: while flipping through my journal from the year 2002, I was struck by an entry that I’d written at age twenty-one. At the time, I was moving into the first house that I’d inhabited since leaving my childhood home. My friends and I had found a great spot off campus and my sights were set high: gone were the days of people living on our couch (or floor) for months at a time. There would be no terrible stains on the rug from parties gone awry. I wasn’t going to share a tiny bedroom with my best friend. I was going to become a normal, responsible twenty-something who was attending school and working part time. I was looking forward to walking in my front door, setting my keys on the counter, and bathing in the warm glow of home. I even imagined a fictitious household dog running up to greet me.
When you are twenty-one and live with five other people, life doesn’t go like this. People DID live on our couch for extended periods of time. There were endless parties. I was greeted not by a beloved communal pet but instead by last night’s regretful mess. I sometimes made it to class and eventually found a part-time job…but my daily existence was nothing like I had anticipated when we all moved in together. I still had a blast.
Reading about the expectations of 21-year-old Jos was humbling because it made something incredibly apparent: those things that I wanted – that I anticipated actually having at some point – I DO have now. I walk in the front door, set my keys down, and I am home. I have furniture, artwork, a television, and a collection of books. I have a job, a 401K, health insurance, paid vacation, a loving boyfriend… there’s even a dog that runs up to greet me (the cat does too, when he’s in the mood). It’s as if adulthood sprang up all around me while I was asleep and it didn’t dawn on me until I was reminded of life at age twenty-one.
This may not seem like a remarkable revelation to most of you, but I frequently feel like I fail at “adulting.” My route in life has been circuitous and unconventional, so I revel in the brief moments when I realize that I have made progress and I am achieving what were once intangible milestones. Things come into our lives while we’re busy living, so it’s important to stop and take stock…especially now that I’ve got more on my mind than after-school snacks.