Proof Point

The 20s are all about growing up. Growing up doesn't just happen overnight (okay puberty hits and all of a sudden your voice is deeper, your shoulder are broader and you've got all this annoying body hair). Growing up also doesn't have a definitive finale date. You can always grow and change as well as revert back to an immature or juvenile version of yourself. Growing up is hard as hell. It's easier to petty, to settle, to be stubborn. Growing up means having to take responsibility for your words and actions. To a certain extent it's about looking the part and carrying yourself that way as well. Think you're a grown up, well here's your proof point.

Alcohol. It's one of those double-edged sword kind of deals. For some people on one hand it can help facilitate some of the best times of their lives while for others it's part of the some of the most destructively dangerous instances they experience. For some people, it's not part of their lives at all. In turning twenty-one the question I was most asked was when I was going to hit the bars to celebrate. When I let people know that I didn't drink, they rebutted with it was actually legal now for me so it was okay. Again I reiterated that I had no intention of consuming alcoholic beverages and the astonishment increased. It's so funny to me that some people, particularly in the traditional college-age demographic, have a tough time believing or accepting a person could go their entire lives without drinking. Hi, I'm here, I've gone now 21 years (it hasn't been hard at all). I think some people understand my choice of drinking as a judgement of those who do. It's just normal for me not to drink just it's like normal for those who do, to do so. Whether I choose to drink or not has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. My favorite reactions are, "how are you going to be a doctor or a professional when your boss or coworkers expect you to go out with them?" I'm just like, I'll be fine drinking water, soda or some sparkling juice - it's not the end of the world. Also, people are like, "I totally approve of your lifestyle" - I'm like, thanks for your condoning of my life practices as if I need your permission to be me. Some people act like you need to have a strong reason for not drinking, family history of alcoholism, athletic training, religion etc. The truth is you don't have to justify yourself to anyone or need a reason to partake or not partake, do you. Other than it's not part of my personal family culture, the smell is unappealing to me, and the secrecy of it (like is this a speakeasy or what?) all turn me off. Even more so how I've heard people explain it is as something to do when you're bored, losing inhibitions to be more social, and just a cultural norm, have yet to convince me of alcohol's value. Not to mention how much money people spend on acquiring the stuff. Part of growing up like I mentioned before was taking responsibility for who you are and how you show up, blacking out, puking places, peeing in bushes, making out wildly, unprotected sex and some of the more extreme behaviors I see people pass of as part of drunkenness seem like nothing more than convenient excuses. Rumor has it, once people turn 21 they end up drinking less and in more sustainable ways. Let's hope it's true. The proof point for this impregnably corked bottle is too high for consumption.
What I want most from this year is to learn how to be in the world but not of it (look at that Christianity shining through) but what I mean by that is how to have sustainable relationships. Relationships and friendships that don't need a proof point. Proof point - n. - the time in your interactions with a person where it is necessary for you or the other person to corroborate the validity of your relationship. How do you be friends with people for long periods of time because I often find myself questioning the integrity of it, particularly after a lackluster showing at the most crucial of times.  I think for me there are two things that are going on. One, I let bad people (notice the use of the word bad as end all be ball is super problematic but we'll let it slide) into my life and feel obligated to keep them around even though they are no good for me. Two, I set these impossible expectations that only I am capable of living up and also don't cue people in that that's what I'm holding them to, leaving me perpetually disappointed. Mix the two together and you've got a proof point that's totally not safe for work.

My birthday is not that big of a deal but this year more than ever it ended up being that way. It was one of those times where the proof point was enacted and those who were up for review failed disastrously. The day was NOTHING like I thought it would be in so many ways. I wouldn't say it was the worst birthday I've ever had (I reserve that for my 16th) but it's not in my top 5 either. I spent my morning unbearably homesick and answering thank you as people obligatorily muttered unenthused "happy birthdays" to me. It was orientation prep day for a session so I was tasked with hanging up bulletin boards with another OL, Alex who was great for conversation. We talked about birthday expectations and barriers that prevent us from telling people what we really want. Lunchtime rolled around and I was surprised during our staff meeting with a cake from Benjy and Angela complete with a crown and princess sash. I couldn't believe that people would go out their way to do something like that for little old insignificant irrelevant old me. I was thoroughly floored. I blew out the candles and made a wish. Lunch came and Benjy stepped it up with a follow up present consisting of a self-made YAAASS t-shirt, a load of candy, and heartfelt note aka the part that gets me right in the feels. After finishing up social justice time (a hearty talk on racism, final-freaking-ly and classism) I spent the afternoon downtown with Heather and Amy collecting free food (cupcake, green tea lemonade, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream) and relishing in the fact that I was now 21. All day my phone was blowing up with little messages and greetings via social media and texting. Evening fell and I got emotional as people like Jessica, Theresa, Sierra and especially Heather gave me memorably impactful and uniquely vulnerable notes that brought me the pre-cry face and eventually crying. The hallway outside my room was decorated and another OL, Aidan, even proposed to be in a circle of lights with a Ringpop. These new people in my life were going all out and the stark contrast to those who I had known for longer being nowhere to be found was jarring. If I say that I was hurt by the flippant nature of people's birthday wishes it would be an understatement. You're supposed to try, to do better, to show you care. How could you text a simple "happy birthday" or even worse completely forget? Making time for you on your day was too much, but some proper acknowledgement would be appreciated. Why did it hurt so much? Why did I let it all hurt me? When will I ever not be hurt? Honestly someone answer me cause growing up sucks. Your birthday is the one day of the year where you get to get to be the center of attention so I was not accepting half-assed attempts of showing affection, cater to me for once and enact the proof point. I ended the night responding to those who had contacted me and resolving to let go the inequities and also some of those who had been less considerate. In my world birthdays are supposed to be the one day that everyone tries harder, gives a little more, and you feel the most loved not overlooked. Right before bed I heard from almost all my siblings and my parents and to hear the excitement in their voices was so reassuring, that's the proper way to say "happy birthday" like you actually mean it.

My blog post question for the day is ... what age are you most looking forward to? I think I'm most excited to turn 32. By that time I should be all established and have my life settled and what not with the fam, finishing school and starting work.


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