I always seemed older than I was.
When I was 18, people pegged me for 24-26. I'm 32 now. People peg me for 26-27 (fist pump). Physically I still have it fairly together--all that dancer's body awareness and health-minded eating probably the main culprit. But how old do I feel...now? Hard to say.
I remember 'getting older' souvenirs from childhood: over-the-hill birthday cards, funny trinkets and 'old fart' references engraved above the kitchen table at my Grandparents' place. I remember being unable to conceive of the age 32 when I was a kid--after 20 everyone may as well have been 55. But right now...in this moment, I don't feel older.
I just feel different.
I feel a little more grateful for really small things.
I feel a little less inclined to rush, a lot more accepting of what's in front of me.
I feel less married to opinions and 'crucial facts' and beliefs.
I feel oddly more awake. A little less numbed out, and a little more okay with the things that scare me.
I tend to see both sides of a situation and coast casually right in between sides on an inflatable pool swan.
For instance, I see that I'm 32 and just barely financially stable. I see that my artistic career has brandished some excitement and fulfillment and enough disappointment and missed/ignored opportunity to sink a small ship. I see a desire to do so much more at tragic odds with daily self sabotage and worthiness issues.
But I can also see a day full of smiles and silliness. A life with so much love, and travel, and creativity, and second chances. I see a lot of thoughtfulness and self-care. I see a genuine effort to accept and empathize and be better with every passing day. I see a careful scrutiny of societal standard balanced with knowing participation in the ol' machine. I see a lucky, lucky woman who can tell a good story and also listen appreciatively to yours.
I know I'm growing up, because I'm dealing with everything in small, observant steps. I'm looking at terrifying concepts like mortality and regret and injustice and, for the most part, just allowing them to exist without sending me into hysterics (another genuine fist pump).
I've let go of 'perfect'. I've let go of excessive, obligatory apology and judgment. I've let go of feeling extra bad just for needing to cry on occasion. It feels good to cry, anyway.
At some point in the last six years, I stopped calling myself shitty out loud. Best decision ever made, although not particularly easy.
32 is a f***ing good age. It feels like my 20's but less stupid.
It feels like, for the first time since I was 5 (when all I could think to want was a Cinderella-themed clock), I have some clarity on what I actually want in life.
I want to wake up and appreciate what I have, and keep learning deeply. I want to see even more of the world, and meet even more people I like being around. I want to get just comfortable enough with money to worry about it less.
I want to carefully feel and inspect all the fine granular bits of my love relationship. I want to really make it delicious from the tiniest inner molecule outward.
And yeah, I want to make a difference as a performer, a family member, and a human.
What does all of that look like exactly? Unclear, but I'm happily coasting through anyway.
I surrendered my version of the map/directions a while ago.