The Identity Crisis You Have After Realizing You Want Marriage And Kids
― B.J. Novak, "One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories"
The quote haunted me as I threw my fragile body into a steaming hot shower and attempted to exfoliate last night's party-induced sins off my raw flesh.
It still haunted me as I hopped into my newly dented car and peeled off to work. And throughout the entire work day.
"Being young was her thing, and she was the best at it. Being young was her thing as she was the best at it. Being young was HER THING AND SHE WAS THE BEST AT IT."
The words repeated in my head, sort of like my friend Sia who, when she's drunk, CAN'T stop saying the same sentence. A sort of alcohol-induced Tourettes, if you ask me.
The idea haunted me because it was the most true thing I had heard in a long time. I'm one of those girls whose entire identity is wrapped around being young. I'm, like, really fucking good at being young. I have friends younger than me, and I blow them out of the park in the "excelling at youth" department.
I just thrive when I'm twirling around town in a tulle party dress, totally single and untethered, teetering in ridiculous platform shoes, feeling both hyper-confident and wildly unsure of myself at the same time.
If I were to describe youth, it would be the state of being constantly stuck in a bizarre paradox between mad insecurity and over-the-top egocentricity.
I'm drawn to youthful things, like distressed-denim bomber jackets, shiny black manicures, over-winged liquid eyeliner, binge-watching "Pretty Little Liars" and reckless midnight kisses in West Village bars with faceless people I hope to never see again.
I'm even good at the shame-spiral. I might as well have a master's degree in the Monday meltdown. (Shit, girl, some of my strongest writing has been derived right out of the Monday meltdown.)
I love impulsive trips to the oh-so salacious Fire Island and hoping on the ferry with a glittering group of gorgeous gay entities who are excited for our three-day adventure during which there is nothing on our agenda except drinking canned champagne and saying "Hell yes" to everything that comes our way.
Most of all, I'm wild. Not snorting-cocaine-getting-behind-a-wheel-putting-my-life-at-risk wild. (I flirted with that kind of danger in my teens, and realized, holy shit I WANT TO LIVE.)
I'm pack-up-my-bags-and-move-to-another-country-for-a-job wild. I'm let-me-write-about-the-most-deeply-personal-things-on-the-internet wild. I'm let's-just-drive-and-drive-and-see-what-happens wild.
But, I turned 30 a few months back. And I didn't have that annoying I-need-to-get-married-and-get-knocked-up crises that I've seen ruin the lives of so many incredible young women.
But I'll tell you what did happen. I fell in love.
That's only a small part of the story, though. The real part is that I began to see the world differently, and it's still happening. I'm starting to crave real things, things that are tangible. While I used to be obsessed with the freedom of temporary things, now I want something I can hold.
Suddenly, I want things that having meaning — meaning that stretches beyond just one moment of bliss on some random beach with some random person whose face I won't remember but the visceral feeling I won't forget.
Like, maybe now I want exploded moments on a gorgeously unfamiliar beach with a person that I trust with every fiber of my being.
Maybe I want to remember the words that she said as well as the visceral feeling of a life-changing conversation. Maybe I want to clutch tightly on to people who have moved me, not just toss them aside and seek out new thrilling memories with new energies.
The idea of permanence is suddenly sort of sexy to me. I find myself fantasizing — not at all about a white picket fence (I'de sooner die), but about an incredible urban loft that I keep for a long time and slowly becomes an authentic expression of my style and taste.
I've never fully committed to building a home before because every lease I've ever signed has been one year. And by six months, I'm plotting out new places to lay my (temporary) roots.
And, while I've always wanted to be a mother my entire life, it's always been something so far in the distance — like looking at a faded polaroid from the '70s in which you can kinda make out the bell-bottom jeans, but not the faces or background.
But now I can see it all. It's all there for the taking, and I'm not afraid to take it or boldly say I want it.
Do I want it this second? Fuck no. I'm still sorting through the last of the beautiful mess I've created.
But it's not as far away as it was. The faded photograph of the future is starting to look more like a digital High Definition picture in which I can see the pores on the faces and the stains on the teeth.
It's all so wild, isn't it? Especially when you're entire identity has been wrapped around being this untethered wild child — the complicated girl with self-destructive tendencies, the girl who needed therapy, the girl who fell in love every other day, the girl who was, well, just a girl.
Who do you become when, all of a sudden, you find yourself as the girl (I will always identify as a girl) who wants endless love with one person and a slew of children? What happens to the crazy girl when her illustrious fantasy of getting in a car and driving away from it all metamorphoses into having endless love with a beautiful person and making the lives of little tiny girls who have grown inside her body nonetheless amazing?
Is it an identity crisis? Yes, it is. But at the same time, no, it isn't.
In fact, I'm leaving identity crises in my 20s. Through the entire colorful whirlwind that has been my life, I've always evolved. If I was stuck to the old idea of who I was, well then, that would be an identity crisis. I've been many things, but STUCK is not one of them.
And the beauty is, I can get married, god-willing, at some point in my life and have gorgeous fucking children, but I don't believe a girl has to ever lose herself to have those things.
I used to think that. I used to mourn the death of my friends' independence and individuality every time I saw a new rock on a once-bare finger pop up on my Facebook Newsfeed. But love and children don't have to swallow you whole. You don't have to chose between your quirky, interesting life and procreating.
You just have to find a person who is as wildly unconventional as you, and is willing to fall into the intoxicating but safe arms of love in the same non-conforming way.
I can't wait to pick up my children from school in mega platforms, and I can't wait to be a freaky wife with handcuffs tucked neatly in the underwear drawer. That's my version of stability.