I’ve got a resting “baby face.” I’m pushing thirty, but strangers often ask if I’m in school… and they don’t always mean college. Last spring, when high school graduation rolled around, several customers at the plant nursery where I work asked me if I was excited to be done with high school.
“Yes,” I replied. “And I was even more excited ten years ago, when I graduated.”
When money’s on the line, people guess more accurately. For my birthday last month, we offered a discount to customers who could correctly guess my age on the first try. “Thirty eight,” said a little boy. “Nineteen,” tried an elderly woman. “Twenty… five?” Most people offered. But no one guessed twenty nine. Which makes sense, because twenty nine is a rather strange number anyway.
The point is, I look young. And maybe it’d be different if I strutted around a corporate office wearing skirt suits and heels, slapping my briefcase open on polished conference tables and wowing shareholders with my Power Point presentations. But most days, I’m dressed in thrift-store finds and having fun outside at a plant nursery. Like this:
But I am an adult. And I do adult things, like getting paid to write (a little scary), and booking myself at writer’s conferences (scarier), and asking for a raise at my day job (scariest). So far, it’s been going swimmingly. I wake up at the crack of dawn to work on my manuscript for a couple hours, ride a joyous three miles on my bicycle to my day job, spend all day watering plants and playing in leaves and helping customers find just the right variety of Japanese maple, and then I head home to cook dinner for my sweetie and shoot off some emails to, say, REI about a public speaking gig. Or I send interview questions to the next round of female cyclists I want to feature. Or maybe I slap a Star Trek postage stamp on an envelope, and mail a check to the freelance editor who’s helping me polish my manuscript.
I’m adulting. And I’m winning. The secret is to keep playing, as if I really am the recently-graduated-high-school-senior that some folks mistake me for. I follow my curiosity, love what I do, and find moments of bliss in each day. Making “leaf angels” in a pile of colorful maple leaves makes it easier to go home and pound out two hours of “adult stuff” on the computer. And when I ride my bike to do errands, it adds that sprinkle of playfulness to otherwise mundane tasks like visiting the post office and buying groceries.
I may look the same, but I feel different than I did in my early twenties. These days, I’m determined. I know what I want. And, so long as I remember to take breaks and play, I’ll get there.