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When did I grow up?

June 9, 2011

I turned 23-years-old yesterday. My Facebook wall saw more activity in that one day than in the rest of the year combined (which I know from the email notifications and because I spent part of the day in Hong Kong, not because I can access Facebook here). And I realized, I’m no longer college-aged.

When did I grow up?

My parents have always assured me that I am very mature for my age. I won’t argue with them on that point. But age-wise, and behavior-wise, I was still a kid. I was still entirely financially dependent on my parents, and entirely dependent on them in a million ways. My life was completely structured by outside forces or by groups of people I chose to join. My time was filled up with things, none of which had to do with building a livlihood or existing in the real world. I lived in a world of overlapping bubbles: the home bubble, the school bubble, the various extra-curricular bubbles. I took many things for granted.

The bubbles all popped and I landed in China, where I now do the following grown-up things that I’ve never really done before:

  • I pay rent every month.
  • I pay bills for things like my cell phone, water, gas, and electricity.
  • I work Mon-Fri, 9-5 at a desk job in a city. They pay me to work there.
  • I commute to said job, 45 minutes each way.
  • When I want to eat, I either have to cook or go out to eat.
  • When I cook, I have to go buy groceries first.
  • I read the news every day.
  • I understand what it means when someone says “the Dow fell 3 points.”
  • I book all my own plane flights.
  • I deal with my own documentation issues (like my visa).
  • I pay taxes. (To China, for now. Meh.)
  • I get tax refunds. (From the US government.)
  • I plan vacations.
  • I have grown up friends. Most of them are older than me. Some of them have babies. One of them just had a baby on June 7th.
  • I make my own life decisions. Nobody else structures anything for me (not even at work).
  • I read a lot of nonfiction books.
  • I read New York Times editorials, and discuss them with my boyfriend.
  • I have been dating the same person for 2 years and 8.5 months. (Best years of my life <3)
  • I think about things like getting married, and they don’t seem weirdly distant or impossible the way they once did.
  • I can live anywhere.
  • If I want to learn something new, I have to motivate myself. Nobody, or no institution, will do that for me.
  • My choices have real consequences, and the right thing to do is often very hard to figure out. Surprisingly hard.
  • I write a blog.

I don’t know how this happened. I used to think of this time, this post-college time when I would be an adult for realsies, and picture myself as a confident, powerful, successful woman. In my imagination, I would always have straight shoulder-length hair, be wearing a sharp suit, and have a briefcase. Like the one my dad always carries to work. I would be a high-powered lawyer like my dad, or a businesswomen, or some professional. The office I worked in would be very black-and-white with a lot of glass. I would drink coffee and tell other people what to do, and get paid lots of money to buy more suits.

Now that I’m here, and my life is nothing like I imagined, my image of my future self has also changed. Career-wise, instead of a clear picture, it’s a fuzzy, ever-changing kaleidescope of possible futures. I have no idea where I’ll end up, but I seriously doubt I’ll look like a high-powered business exec. That’s not the life I want for myself (except maybe the telling people what to do part). I don’t want long work hours, I don’t want fancy expensive clothes. I want a job where I connect with people. I want a job where I can think outside the box. I want a job where I’m not tied to a computer all day, doing what others expect of me obediently and getting a fat paycheck. But other than those vague guidelines, future!morgan changes moment by moment, as new ideas and possibilities flit across my mind.

The one picture that is clear for me is my future self in the home. In the home, I’m a wife and mother. I have a big family – lots of children, but also extended family nearby, in and out all the time. I have a big bright kitchen where I cook a lot, for all the people. I’m surrounded by people I love and their laughter. This is the most important thing to me, to fulfill this vision. Whatever happens with my career, well, it’ll happen. There will be ups and downs. But if I create a life for myself where I’m surrounded by loved ones, and part of a real community, and rooted in a home that I love, I’ll be happy. That’s what matters most to me.

I know I can make this vision a reality. I just know it. I’m so blessed to have already found a partner who wants all the same things, and values these things most highly. With that picture in my mind, I can’t wait to keep growing (up)!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lori nyberg permalink
    June 9, 2011 4:54 am

    Hey Morgan! I always love your posts, and this one brings back memories. The first thing that hit me is how gracious you are of what you have had. At age 19 I was paying taxes, already paying my own rent, buying my food, thank goodness cell phones were not popular in the early 90’s or I would have been paying for one too. I love that at 23 you know the gifts you were given, many if us have never had the opportunities you have had, but you are so appreciative of it all. That is the greatest gift, to know what you have and what that means. I am proud you are my cousin,

    • June 11, 2011 11:33 am

      Thanks Laurie! Wow, I’m blushing! I wasn’t always this grateful for what I have. It took time to get here –and some coaching from my boyfriend, who is one of the most grateful (and therefore happy) people I’ve ever met. But thank you for the compliment 🙂

  2. CBuck permalink
    June 12, 2011 12:48 pm

    This made me cry. I really miss you Morgan!

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