Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last thirty-something birthday!

Woo-hoo! I'm 39 today, and it's my last year as a thirty-something.

Like, I don't care?

People kind of expect you to start having crises about your life when you're my age. I guess you're "supposed to" have crises right on schedule when you hit your thirties or something.

I had Meghan over for the weekend before my birthday. Her birthday is two days after mine so we usually celebrate together.

We decided to make a video together that vaguely relates to my usual asexuality subject but also discussed friendship and relationships. (I'll edit that and post it probably sometime next month, but my camera takes still photos while making videos, so I have some cute shots.)

We kinda talked about this whole "expected at your age" phenomenon. We are both regularly treated like we're "not adults" or something because of our interests and our values--neither of us drink, both of us like cartoons, I don't drive, she's obsessed with going to Disney World, etc.--and it's also been suggested that our friendship is childish because it matters to us. I guess women are expected to have other woman friends and maybe you have a girls' night out or a cards club and you drink wine and chat about men, but when you're like me and your friendships are the only thing you have relationship-wise, you're still expected to put relationships like mine with Meggie on the back burner in favor of finding a primary partner. And that is always supposed to be your priority--your family, based around your (probable) husband. Not having that and "just" having friends is childish.

And I've never cared what people think about that either.

Maybe I'm not as rattled by getting older because I've never done what I'm "supposed to" in reference to my age and I feel that expectations seeking to limit what I can do just based on my age are more or less arbitrary. If two fortyish ladies want to spend their birthdays geeking out about cartoons, eating ice cream sandwiches, and having heart-to-hearts (plus a little shopping, I mean we literally did go to the mall and buy shoes like Women Are Supposed To), we should be able to do that without feeling like we did something inappropriate.

I don't think this is all that unusual, of course. Plenty of people have relationships that aren't what the media tells us our relationships should be like. But the fact that Meggie and I have encountered opinions like "still? You're still hanging out with that girl you knew in high school?" and "What do you even still have to talk about?" makes me think our friendship is kind of an outlier. We are expected to dive into our (singular) Primary Relationship and more or less devote ourselves to the family that will grow from that, and that (with our career if we have one) is supposed to fill you up. Friends are treated like something you do, like going to a concert or scheduling a meeting. They're not supposed to be as fundamental to your identity and your lifestyle as they are when, say, you're a teenager. 

And maybe that's why so many people see my relationship with my ~friends~ as childish and like to throw "but [person] is just a friend, right?" into conversations. "Friend" always has "just" in front of it for them. So they can't imagine that it could be otherwise for someone who doesn't have primary relationships, or even for someone who does like Meggie. She's married with children and works very hard as a nurse. And our relationship is as important to her as it's ever been, even though we met at my sixteenth birthday party.

I rarely see maturity being discussed outside of a prescriptive sense. It's gotten so I don't even know what maturity means. Surely it can't be based on self-sufficience, because even though I used to think that was part of it, I understand now that many people who can't or don't take care of themselves can be mature. Surely it can't be based on "leaving childish things behind," because even though I'm interested in many things I've either liked since I was a child or presently like even though they're primarily made with children in mind, these interests do not depend on being childish or actively cause me to be childish. Surely it can't be based on financial or professional success, because plenty of people who do not achieve those things are mature. I think that I have matured since I first met Meghan, but the direction in which I grew did not require me to move away from her or leave her behind just because I was less mature when I formed a bond with her. It's disappointing to hear people conceptualizing some of my choices as if they indicate immaturity and lack of capability, and to be honest I doubt the maturity of anyone who weaponizes its definition to shame people into giving up what they love in the name of a perceived rite of passage.

There are certain prescribed ways for adults to let their hair down, and many of them involve alcohol, risky behavior, sex, gambling, or relatively expensive hobbies. There are a few "adult" celebrations I can get behind and find enjoyable, like having a relaxing beach vacation or going on a sightseeing road trip. But to be honest I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday than at home in a comfortable space hanging out doodling and talking about nerdy things and enjoying our homemade cake.

Off to enjoy the last year of writing my age with a 3 at the beginning. :)

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