A Brief Retrospective on Growing Up

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My mother says I am in the real world now.

“Things aren’t just handed to you,” she says. “You have to work.”

She is referring to my history of being blessed, the days when jobs, men, friends, careers, and connections came to me. When I had a wide network, when I knew everyone in my city. The days before DC, maybe even farther back.

I moved to DC for an adventure, of course, but mostly – and more than I knew at the time – to support Ryan and his start-up. In the middle of it all, I grew up. I came to terms with our relationship, compromise, and what I want for our life – and my life.

It took awhile.

Because even though moving was my choice, and I was adamant that it wasn’t a choice to follow my boyfriend, but a choice to follow something new and exciting, I still get frustrated. Angry. At myself.

At slipping, then settling into a lifestyle. That set of patterns and habitual actions holding you to certain choices, responsibility, obligation. All of a sudden, there is more to lose. More face to save. There’s your boyfriend to consider. His future. Your life together. You have rent to pay, loans to pay off, financial goals to meet. Your mother. You want to take care of her. And the job you have. It’s just good enough.

Idealism, it drains out of you slowly, hour by hour, cubicle by cubicle, and every time you click open Facebook. And then there’s the revelation: crap (except, imagine stronger language), this is just not where I thought I would be at 28.

We could walk through my list of accomplishments, and yes, I am proud of where I’ve been and where I am now, but that sense of purpose is largely lost. I check off a list that feeds a lifestyle that keeps risk just out of reach.

I feel safe, and it is killing me.

I guess this is growing up. For some. I haven’t mentioned it before, because, God, it’s so hugely embarrassing. To not have taken your own advice. To not have lived in your own expectations. And as much as I try, I can’t eschew those feelings away through candy-coated snark or lift-you-up affirmations. Those people, they make me cringe.

It’s just, life is your responsibility.

What are your thoughts on settling? Is it inevitable? Or can you reconcile ambition and reality? How do you get over the feeling that you should be more?