Functional Adulthood:
The Writer at 30

I’m a grown-up even if I still watch pro wrestling, right? Right?

Through the tyranny of the base 10 counting system, we are commemorating a full decade of Crunchable. This is the perfect occasion for a little navel-gazing, particularly since I’m facing down my 30th birthday.

By the definitions of most civil societies, I am an adult. If 19-year-old Kevin could see me, I’m sure he’d be impressed that I’d been able to upgrade from a closet-sized dorm room with cinderblock walls to an actual two-story townhouse of my own. He would also be encouraged by my current ability to grow a full beard, and probably confused by the presence of two cats. But I don’t really see many differences between the two of us. So how much more mature am I with the benefits of 10 years’ experience?

I’m still spending most of my free time watching pro wrestling and sports on TV, and I’m still not nearly serious enough about my writing. (As if to prove this last point, I stopped to read all 200 new blog posts in my Google Reader feed before typing a complete sentence in this article.) In general, I’m too reliant on doing the bare minimum to get by rather than going a bit further for greater effect. I keep my house clean enough that it doesn’t disgust me, but your mileage may vary. I do laundry on a regular basis, but clean clothes may sit in the dryer for three days before I get around to folding them and putting them away. I’ve figured out how to cook a few staples, and I’ll just keep them in continual rotation rather than taking the time and effort to experiment with new dishes. Who needs anything more than black beans with chopped bell peppers?

On the other hand, it’s not like I’m a hopeless case. I make sure all my bills are paid like clockwork each month. I’m showered, fed, and out the door for work every morning on schedule. Even the unfolded clean laundry is basic progress for somebody who ran out of fresh socks at the end of his first semester of college and wore moccasin slippers for the last day of finals rather than fork out the money for a laundry card. Heck, I’ve even curbed the screaming and cursing and throwing of household items while watching football games, making it easier to find people who are willing to watch said games with me. So if anything, I would say I’m functionally an adult. But that turn of phrase brings to mind “functional illiteracy,” which isn’t exactly a flattering comparison.

In my more cynical moods, I used to tell people I was certain I wouldn’t be married by the time I turned 30. As it turns out, that’s one of the few self-prognostications that I ever got on the nose. (Assuming, of course, that nothing extraordinary happens before August.) This is something I probably worry about too much. Within five years of graduation, nearly all of my closest friends walked down the aisle, some with one another. While this was the right decision for them, it just hasn’t worked out that way for me. Sure, I wish it had. But I’ve got the sense to know that “everyone else is doing it” is a lousy reason to enter into a binding social and personal relationship.

Any time I start getting antsy over still being single I think I’ll have to click on this article and remind myself of this advice:

  1. You will not spontaneously burst into flames, with the wind scattering your ashes to the seven seas, if indeed you get married at 31 or 35 or 45 or 80. Who knows? You might not ever get married. Now would be a good time to double back and read that first sentence.
  2. At the same time, you probably shouldn’t talk to the cats so much. That kind of behavior becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Whew. I’m glad I got that out the way. Oh, and here’s one more pointer:

  1. Do something that you’ve never done before. If you can just try to do that every day, some of the faults you’ve found in yourself might just become part of the past.
Article © 2011 by Kevin Brotzman