Thought Catalog
April 19, 2017

When Your Age Says You’re An Adult, But You Don’t Really Feel Like One

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What is the issue?
Jonathan Chen

I am twenty-eight. In the eyes of the law, I have spent 18 years as a minor and 10 as an adult. I do not understand how I can be considered fully grown when I have lived most of my life as a child.

At eighteen, I wanted nothing more than to drive fast cars on pin-straight freeways. I spent hours wishing there was less of me, less stomach fat, less backtalk, less anger to burn people up. I hitched my hopes on torrid daydreams, visions of fame and riches and beautiful things. Hours fell away, keyboards wore out. Sleep was an afterthought, ripped aside by a hunger to be seen.

I dressed in black and neon and lined my eyes, hung danger signs on any part of my body they could see. Neckties with skulls, wallets with chains. Dark, but not invisible. I wanted angel wings and blue hair and armor. I practiced arrogance as shoes to fill, a promise to myself.

They toyed with me and I was not finessed enough to ever toy back. They will see me, I promised, they will all see me. I swore I would avenge myself, spin racism and coldness and gossip into something meaningful. The world held mystery and winked with peril and it thrilled me.

At twenty-eight, I want meandering mountain roads, a single pair of lonely headlights swinging down the asphalt. My greatest fear is that I will shrink away to a ghost of a woman who cannot meet their eyes. My greatest dreams are of simplicity, cups of tea in squares of sunlight, the smell of ink, a line of beautiful words, x-acto blades biting into paper.

I aspire to wear my bed out of doors while still looking polished and considered. Sartorial sweats and leggings. I have a ring on my finger and purple hair. Enough color to warn them off, but it’s mostly so I’ll live with brightness by my brow.

Confidence is closer to silence now, a whisper of fact, a coolness untainted by brays of humility.
I try to practice compassion and leave niceness well enough alone. I swear to avenge underdogs, to change the smallness of the public eye. I fail more often that I succeed at this. I continue.

At thirty-six I will have lived half my life as an adult. I hope I still walk on grass each day, burn a leaf of sage or two. I hope for quiet mornings and loud afternoons filled with family and art and fucking good food. Fear will always call to me like a dinner bell, a plea to come home, to re-wrap my limbs in a sticky tar of sadness. I hope to stay nomadic in this way, conscious of how temporary we are, conscious that forever is one of the few impossibilities we dream of. TC mark