You liked being a mess. It was a large part of your identity for a long time. The people you slept with, the stories you got to tell at brunch the next day, the important places you went: that was all that mattered to you. There was no concept of taking care of yourself because feeling bad felt better than feeling good. Whenever you did make the healthy choice, whenever you did something that felt remotely grown up, it was almost out of irony. “Look at me pretending to have my shit together. Ha ha. You’re stupid if you think this is who I actually am.”
But eventually the lines become blurred and you find yourself coming closer to something you didn’t recognize before. Something, dare I say, mature? It happened quietly. It always does. We think that one day we’ll just wake up and be ready to grow up and turn into the person we were always meant to be but it doesn’t work that way. Change is gradual and usually bundled with a load of contradictions. You want to move out of your neighborhood because it’s too noisy and full of drunk people, even if you’re often one of them. You stopped drinking on weeknights but you still smoke too much pot. It always feels like two steps forward, one step back. And sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s just what maturing looks like.
You’re ready to be bored. You’re ready to be alone instead of someone who feels like a stranger. You’re ready to have more space and swim in pools and have wet hair and pruney fingers and be close to your family and say no to the bad things and say maybe to the good things.
You’re ready to take care of yourself, to “water the plants” of your life and make sure your needs are being met and no one is making the wounds any deeper than they should be.
You’re ready to choose being bored and stable over busy and a trainwreck. You never thought you’d be the person who gave up the popular zip code and vomit on the sidewalk for something more gentle. You never thought you’d become what you were always afraid of — a stable person! — but here you are, giving it a kiss hello.
You worried that it would never sink in with you. As you got older, you saw everyone around you settle into their skin more except for you. Your life felt like a Groundhog’s Day. You kept on making the same mistakes over and over again with no learning curve.
When will it happen? When will it finally click with you?
And then it did. And then it does. More and more each day. Some less than others actually. No matter what though, you will be the person you want to be because the alternative is unfathomable. Your heart can’t take anything else. Eventually the bad things sting and the good things feel right. That’s growing up.