What is it supposed to look like?

Little girl as an adult in a Nationwide commercial

Little girl as an adult in a Nationwide commercial

I can really relate to the kids in these ads

Okay, vulnerable post time. Fair warning: This could get messy.

I don’t know if it’s because of the way I act, or the way I look, or the fact that I simply got good genes, but most people don’t believe I’m 34. I have genuinely, seriously contemplated lying about my age – although I guess it’s moot at this point, seeing as how I just blasted it all over the interweb. Whatevs, I’m 28.

And it’s not just that I don’t look my age. I don’t feel my age. But not in the way most people don’t feel their age. In many ways, I feel like I haven’t graduated from high school. Like I didn’t spend 4 wonderful years in college. Like I didn’t go back to college and get a second, and then a third, degree. I feel like those things, in many ways, happened to other people, and have no bearing on my life, other than the fact that I have to pay back student loans.

I still live at home, sleeping in the same room I’ve slept in since I was six years old. (At least my room isn’t still pink. Yikes!) I do not like admitting that. It is painful to me. I know lots of people live with their parents when they’re in their 30s, and not because they’re emotionally stunted, but because that is the best legitimate choice for them. And I fall in to the latter category (I hope). Although, I supposed I am emotionally stunted in some ways, because my adolescent experiences were much different from that of my peers.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a boyfriend, but I bet they can’t say they know what it feels like to go to middle school looking like a linebacker because you had to wear a back brace for six months following scoliosis surgery. So, really, who comes out ahead there?

So, no, I don’t like saying I still live at home, and usually laugh it off in some way. I never lie. Every reason I give for living at home is true: It’s difficult finding accessible housing that meets my standards and is affordable. I don’t have a lot of money coming in because I’m building a business. It’s the best solution for me. All true.

Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

And, some days, like right now, it weighs on me. It upsets me that I haven’t met some arbitrary, self-imposed guideline for what my life should look like at 34.

Growing up, I knew what I wanted. I knew where I was going to be by the time I graduated from college, by the time I was 25, 30, 34. If you talked to 10-year-old me, here is what she would predict my life would be like right now:

red Mustang convertible

The symbol of my should-have-been life

I’d be living in some really cool, metropolitan city like New York or London. I would have authored at least one wildly successful book, or have become a wildly successful artist. Probably both. Wildly successful being the operative words. I wouldn’t be married, but I would have a serious relationship. No kids, but definitely dogs. People would know my name, but I wouldn’t be paparazzi-level famous. And, of course, I would be driving a pristine 1964 1/2 candy apple red Ford Mustang convertible, living in a posh apartment or townhome, with enough room for me to have a library and an office/studio.

Well, I’ve managed to stay unmarried and have no kids, but do have dogs. People know my name, but it’s usually in conjunction with being someone’s granddaughter, or the monthly newspaper column I held for one year 11 years ago. I’ve already discussed my living situation. And the closest I’ve gotten to that pristine Mustang is the dusty model on my dresser, and the framed poster that fell behind my desk months ago.

Life threw me curve balls. Like, flipping my chair my senior year in high school (I missed out on a trip to France), breaking an arm and a leg, only to flip it again my freshman year in college. Like, sinking into depression and having to figure out treatment options – after putting it off for much-too-long. Like, quitting the only “real” job I ever had after two years, and struggling to figure out what to do next. Like being born with osteogenesis imperfecta and having to use a wheelchair in the first place.

I’m not unhappy. I’m just frustrated. I don’t know that my life would be anything like 10-year-old me anticipated if I hadn’t been thrown curves, or had gotten different ones. As an artist, a creative, I’m not particularly goal-oriented. I have goals, but I don’t measure them in concrete ways, but I am trying to retrain myself to that.

Because I want my life to look different. I want my outlook to look different.

I guess I’m a late bloomer. And if anyone asks, I am definitely only 28.

About Laura

Artist, writer, designer and nerdy creative based in Charlotte, NC. Loves Harry Potter, Firefly, Doctor Who, country music, and Nathan Fillion. Wheelchair-user, due to osteogenesis imperfecta aka brittle bone disease.