I get that life is transitional, I do, I just never really thought about what that meant. There are the obvious, well-defined changes, the ones that seem to happen over night,
- You’re born and you’re a baby, turn 2 and you’re a toddler, you’re a kid until you turn 13 and literally overnight you’re a teenager, 18 and suddenly everyone’s calling you an adult…
- Then, of course, 21 happens, you’re legal everywhere, and it’s the last birthday anyone cares about before you want to start lying about your age.
- You take your first step and you’ve gone from crawling to walking.
- You start school and work your way from elementary to primary to high school, a regimented progression.
- Graduate, move out, get a job, settle down.
These transitions are expected, planned for and pretty much happen right on schedule. Then there are the ones that happen after you turn 21, the ones that restructure your priorities, goals, expectations, interpersonal relationships, virtually your whole personal identity, so slowly that you don’t even realise it’s happening until you wake up one morning with the realisation that you’ve become a totally different person.
These are the changes I feel should have come with the biggest warnings, the neon billboard of warnings, something a little more explicit than the “You’ll understand when you’re older.” we all assumed was just a cop out.
Because those things that I was told I’d understand when I was older are things that are beginning to define the way I live my life.
I’ve done the wild party girl thing and it was fun, but now it’s gone from every night to every weekend to every so often to, my current reality of, sometimes, maybe, if it’s somebody’s birthday and I’m not too tired and I don’t have to be up early the next morning. Not ‘if’ or ‘or’, and. I used to stay out ’til dawn, stumble home for a shower (completely bypassing the unmade bed) and some oversized sunnies and then head straight back out to meet friends for breakfast before work. Now though, 4 out of 5 times it’s barely cleared midnight before I’m snuggling into my girlfriend all “baby, I think our bed is calling” or trying to bribe the bartender into sneaking into the closed kitchen to make me a cup of tea.
The perks of being a familiar face is that some of them will do it, the downside is that they’ll also look at me like ‘shouldn’t you be ordering raspberry vodka shots and dancing on a table by now’. And yeah, okay, a year ago I would have been, now though, all I want to do is slowly sip a few martinis and chat with friends before my wonderful other half drives us home to curl up in our meticulously made bed with a book, a cup of tea and the world’s cutest cat.
This. This right here. This right here is the definition of settling down.
I think my tipping point was one truly ridiculous weekend this past February, in which I attended my honorary baby sister’s 21st, drank the open bar and then woke up the next morning feeling like I’d been hit by a train. Hangovers are not what they used to be, it used to be 2 Advil with OJ and I was fine, now it takes me days to bounce back. Unfortunately, I didn’t have days to recover, I had maybe 40mins of moaning self pity before my sister-in-law’s tupperware party.
So fast forward an hour and there I am, awkwardly sweating tequila and feeling like a fraud, though, if I’m being honest, less so than when I was failing to find common interests with a table of 18-21yr olds (there’s only a handful of years between us but the difference is staggering).
Coincidently, it was also then (as I was placing my $400 order) that I realised that the things I used to joke about being for ‘old married people’ had become things that actively interest me.
It was then, marinating in regret and still wearing last night’s make-up, that I realised I no longer want to go clubbing ’til dawn or to hot mess house parties. I have no interest in collecting more war stories or losing more shoes and I really don’t want to hear about someone’s latest acid trip or one night stand.
Now, I’d rather wrangle 2yr olds and discuss cake toppers at my nephew’s birthday than go out binge drinking with friends I’ve mostly outgrown. I’d rather trade recipes and Pinterest links than drunk bathroom confessions.
Gone are the days where I want to go out every weekend, in their place are dinner parties and sporadic cocktail hours where we chat about our DIY projects and politics. When the conversation shifts to things like marriage and kids I don’t self-consciously laugh it off and change the subject, I’m not entirely ready for either but I’m ready to be talking about it, for it to be a part of my 5-7 year plan. I’m ready to have a 5-7 year plan.
It’s been a transition both oddly comfortable and incredibly awkward and it’s been hard, at times, to let go of the girl I thought I was but I’ve found a sense of contentment and balance in the woman I’m becoming.
I think I like settling down, it feels a bit like fluffy slippers and finding home.