Oh Hey, It’s My Birthday:

13 June 2017



I’ve always struggled with the concept of age. For most of my late teens, I haven’t necessarily identified with the age that I felt was so arbitrarily attached to my body, almost like it was the washing instructions on a garment of clothing that I often ignore.

My main characteristic was my maturity, and most everyone (older) I have met in the past few years have been quick to comment on this. “I thought you were 25!” “You don’t seem xteen at all!” “You could have fooled me!” and a myriad of other observances along those lines would be quick to leave the mouths of those that just found out about my ripe young age.

And in all honesty, I can’t say I hated hearing those things. Being mistaken for someone older definitely has it’s perks that you best believe I take advantage of them (*cough* wine *cough*). At times, I wore those comments as a badge of honor. As a 4w3 (the individualist with an achiever wing...enneagram!!), I reveled in being “different” and standing apart from others, but overall, I have struggled finding a balance with being taken seriously as an adult but still being young and doing age-appropriate activities.

Although I have felt older mentally for a good while, the idea of entering my twenties seemed daunting. Traditionally, this has been the span of years where one is supposed to figure out life, get married, have kids, etc. etc.. The aforementioned tasks are not things I want to try accomplish now or even in the next few years. I still don’t fully understand what a 401K is, I have a hard time committing to avocado toast or waffles at brunch (spoiler: I typically regret my choice), and I got upset at my cat for not cuddling with me last night and have been ignoring him ever since. Regardless of the ageism, discrimination, and general confusion that come along with being a mature 19-year-old, I’m happy to exist in a limbo when I realize what being a real person fully entails.

Even in recent years, when some of my more similarly-aged friends started turning twenty, the concept had always seemed SO WEIRD. I had always dedicated the twenty-something friend bracket for those deep in their twenties with their shit together and apartments filled with plants they know how to keep alive. But suddenly! Those with whom I could complain about final exams, college professors, and every other age-appropriate topic were now technically in that level I had once felt so separated.

Like I mentioned before, I vehemently ignore my age. I don’t treat myself like I’m (still very) young, I surround myself with people (many) years my senior, I work hard to further my career and creative path. I seldom fully grasp my young age until I find myself saying it out loud or being in a room filled with other people that are 19, and then I truly realize how separate I am.

I often find myself sounding silly when lamenting to others about how I need to be doing more creatively or how I need to be moving my career forward, faster. About halfway through my ramblings, I often get a “CHILL OUT UR 19” look and then I realize that I am, in fact, lil, and I won’t fully grasp the power of my youth or just how much I have taken on until time has passed and my youth has faded.

I’m in a particularly peculiar position in life where I have been able to accomplish some pretty fantastic creative things, attend inspiring events, but then still need to turn a school assignment in on time or have to get permission before booking a vacation. It’s awkward, difficult to navigate, and isolating in the fact that I haven’t met anyone else in a similar position.

I am reminded of a moving quote by the great poet, Britney Spears, that says, “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman.” Dissonance and imposter syndrome are a staple to my life, and more often than not, I feel very left behind from the aforementioned twenty-something friends, but very ahead of peers my own age. It’s confusing, challenging, and I’m still trying to achieve a balance as well as searching for those my own age with which I can relate and twenty-somethings that don’t treat me like my age (hint: this is a VERY HARD thing to do).

Even just reflecting on all that has happened in year 19, I’m pretty blown away. I got hired at a company I admired to create their instagram content as well as their first ever magazine, reached (and surpassed) 10K instagram followers, designed + published a second issue of another publication I co-founded, co-founded a website through which I met amazing women, spoke on a panel about social media, was profiled in a magazine, hosted a workshop and panel in Boston, painted my first mural in my favorite Chicago shop, designed a journal that will soon be published, and traveled to two new countries.

But please don’t get me wrong, there was much that was terribly difficult. I had an extremely hard season with my best friend and felt deeply hurt for a good while, started at a new university, lost the aforementioned job, had to let go of two different projects on unfair terms, dealt with family death, other family issues, and experienced my first pseudo-romance that ended in severe discomfort and hurt.

This has easily been simultaneously the best and worst year to date. But when over half of your life thus far has been spent as a pre-pubescent human, this isn’t a hard feat to master.

All of that being said, I have been tremendously overwhelmed with the kindness from people here on the ol’ interwebs. My timid transparency has been met with gentle words that mean so damn much. I am truly, truly so thankful for each thoughtful message and comment I have received recently. Especially after my very emotional post back in April, I want to say thank you so much for all the sincere wishes. I’m having such a hard time expressing my gratitude without using an annoying amount of unneeded adjectives. I AM UNWORTHY!! AND I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR YOU!!

I’m not one for my own birthday. I typically dread it. The only constant throughout the years is the fact that I share with my birthday with Mary-Kate and Ashley, and have convinced myself that I am their long lost triplet (despite looking nothing like them and being 11 years younger, but  A GIRL CAN DREAM).

But I’m treating myself specially today. My bff/platonic soulmate, Victoria, is coming up to Chicago for a lil celebration. And what is probably the best birthday gift I shall ever receive, John Mulaney and Nick Kroll’s Oh Hello on Broadway is now on Netflix. The next time you see me, I will have watched it about 7 times and be quoting it into oblivion. I’m sure you must be looking forward to that encounter.

This past weekend, I downloaded the NYT crossword app further cementing myself as a youth-grandma. Some 20 year-olds get dance parties and monogrammed tote bags, I opt for the answer to 6 across: Sans- __ (font type).

You bet your ass this typography-obsessed gal knew the answer in a heartbeat.

Signing off as a twenty-something,

Abby

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