I know I’m in my thirties. I’ve been in my thirties for a while now (so says the blogger with the word “boy” in his sobriquet), and will be for a while yet. I just don’t feel like it.
Admittedly, I don’t really know what I’m expecting being in one’s thirties to feel like. Part of me feels old, very old… old enough that most people at work, and what feels like half of my family too, is younger than me (my friendly colleague who did my annual review last year was 22!). I wasn’t really expecting to be anywhere by this age… but then again, I never thought I’d live this long to begin with.
But then sometimes I completely forget that I’m in my thirties. I accidentally told someone the other day that I was twenty-five, not that I look it. At some points, it feels as if I haven’t even left my late teens, which (considering that was now two decades ago) is a thought both terrifying and a little sad.
I sometimes feel like I didn’t age too well because I never really had a “wild period”. I was a good kid, and while I wasn’t the world’s greatest teenager – because who is? – I could have been a lot worse. I wasn’t overly confrontational, nor did I overindulge in any of the adolescent vices, avoiding as I did smoking, drinking, drugs, and even masturbation (until I was 17). I didn’t go out a lot (or at all, really, unless you count Woodcraft); I did all my schoolwork (often at school, so I didn’t need to do it at home); I was relatively civil to everyone.
For most of my teenage years, though, I was battling quite severe depression, of the type that most people misconstrue as “attention-seeking”. I didn’t have much energy after all the crying and self-harming and nights spent lying awake wondering if my life was a failed one and I should just give up.
I’m not sure what my twenties was supposed to feel like, either. I didn’t really do anything at university (all my escapades were outside thereof – again, mostly Woodcraft). Despite all the stories one hears about students – wistful nostalgia about having “come alive” while there and so forth – nothing happened to me. I didn’t particularly enjoy university as it is, and the fact that after my finals the celebrations consisted entirely of a hot chocolate in a coffee shop with a bunch of mature students, themselves in their thirties, should probably tell you all you need to know.
The bits after my university life were just as sedate. Going out now consisted of being in a friend’s house watching DVDs with a pizza from Domino’s. Social media wasn’t a thing (MySpace was around, but I wasn’t really using it), so I didn’t really have any way of contacting people I didn’t have the numbers of to text.
I also didn’t date, nor did I sleep around. Or sleep with anyone. Or come close. I’m not hot enough, nor am I bold enough. 20-year-old me would have been all over hookup apps, had they been a thing. Still.
For most of my twenties, and all of my thirties so far, I’ve been attached. I had about half a year of being single around the age of 25/26, and about a month again in 2012. As much as being attached is pleasant (I work best in relationships), I do feel sometimes like there’s been the occasional missed opportunity. I wasn’t ready for my third relationship – I was still suffering from being broken up with – and I spent subsequent years meeting hot people at Erotic Meet, Eroticon, etc. being completely unavailable.
I know, it’s all the kind of “what-if?” situations that are completely unknowable, but it’s the not knowing that’s killing me.
Why am I saying all this?
Because last night I remembered someone. A real person, too, not an unreal girl. I spent most of the morning trying to find her, and when I finally did (I had to follow links through a huge number of Facebook profiles to do so), I barely recognised her. She was there, but she was different – married, a mother, having a stable job and wearing sensible clothes, taking holidays in sunny destinations. She looked like, well, like a parent.
This is the girl who used to chat to me for hours. She’s the girl who openly talked about how much sex she was having and how much she was enjoying porn. She’s the one who advised me to watch the Paris Hilton video (I did watch it, but only once… and I’ll never do that again!), the one who counselled me after my first relationship ended, and teased me mercilessly about touching herself while we talked.
I don’t recognise her.
So what’s the lesson here? Maybe my good memory is starting to play games with me. Or maybe I just remember things so vividly that they seem much more recent than they actually are.
But we age. We all do. And perhaps, just perhaps, we change as we do so.