Lifestyle

On struggling to be an adult.

Today, one of my nephews turned 16 and I’m just sitting here wondering how that’s possible. Wasn’t I the same age, just moments ago? Remember when we were younger, and adults would say things about time flying by — and we didn’t understand because Summer felt like it was a MILLION days away? I am now that adult who says things like “When I was your age,” and laments the popular music of today; I marvel at the technology available to youth and thank the internet Gods that we didn’t have social media when I was in my formative years. I ask people on the internet, “Remember when we were younger?”

When my mom was my age, she had already given birth to four daughters. She had the first three of us before she turned 25, so when she was pregnant with Tessa at 33 I truly wondered, “Isn’t she a little old to be having another kid? Is she still able to have babies?” Of course, I was 10 when I had those thoughts. Back then, I assumed I would be very rich and famous at 18, and my magic age for marriage was 28 — but I told everyone I would die by 25 (I was a weird and morbid child), so I either wasn’t very good at planning or didn’t actually care about marriage (I think it was the former). Kids were never a part of my equation, so I couldn’t tell you what I thought about that and whether there was some magic age to have them. But it’s funny how things never go according to our youthful expectations. For one, I’m still alive — imagine my surprise when I made it past 25 — and I’m neither rich nor famous now, let alone at 18. [For the record, I’d still enjoy being rich but fame sounds horrible.] 

Now I’m 34 and many — maybe even most — of my friends are either pregnant, have children, or are currently planning for them. Unlike my younger years, I no longer think any of them are “too old” to have kids (I mean, come ON), but I sometimes feel the exact opposite. But we’re so YOUNG! This is all happening so quickly! But of course, we’re not; we’re adults. We’re real adults. We’re 16 years past the legal voting age adults. We’re “I have to seriously plan out the rest of life if I want to have certain things” age adults. 

I know we’re real adults, and everyone around me is adjusting to their roles as they see fit. They’re settling down, buying houses, having babies, building major companies. I find myself envying lives I don’t want (or I don’t think I want) because I feel so far behind and insignificant in my achievements — even compared to some girls I know who haven’t even cracked 30. Am I having an existential crisis? It feels like I’m the odd one out who still can’t figure out “real adult” things without googling it every step of the way. Kids and marriage aside, I’d love to buy a house. I’d love to know how to responsibly invest my money. I’d love to be brave and/or knowledgable enough to start a new career venture I’ve been wanting to pursue. But I’m frozen, and I sometimes wish I had someone to hold my hand through the process. You know, a real real adult. Even though I’ve enjoyed my 30s a whole lot more than my 20s, it’s still so hard for me to think of myself as a “real” adult. 

I’m 34 years old and I’ve lived more than twice the amount of my nephew’s lifespan, and though I’m both akin to an 80 year old women or a little girl depending on the day, I feel perpetually 22. Of course, I guess I can blame that on my younger self’s poor planning. I never did get past 25.

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41 comments

  1. Laura says:

    Omg I’m so glad you wrote this because I’m the same age as you and I’m feeling the same way. I don’t have kids I’m not married and apart of me is like what’s wrong with me. It’s like I’m terrified to face reality that I’m getting older and have to face these things.

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      The way I feel varies by the day. I think if I knew what I *do* want or definitively knew what I don’t want, I wouldn’t be so bothered. I’m pretty happy in my life and tbh this is the most trivial thing ever in my current state of being. But since it’s something I actually have control over, and I don’t want to continue living day to day and flying by the seat of my pants, it’s somehow one of the things that bothers me most. <3

  2. Sam says:

    Me and you both I m 35 I am married no kids no house no major career what am i doing wrong? I feel perpetually stuck.

  3. Cadie Campbell says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I recently turned 32 and I’ve found myself envying lives I don’t want too. I like my career and my boyfriend (who isn’t my husband) and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one not feeling like a “real” adult 🙂

  4. Jackie M says:

    The best advice I ever got was from my mom’s friend, a 72 year old track and field athlete who traveled around the world… still competing!! And winning international events! (yes, there are events like this, for ALL ages, and they are a true inspiration!)

    He just said: throw out the calendar. It doesn’t matter, it will only stop you.

    I am in the exact same situation you are in. I 1000% relate to your post. But I always think of his advice and it calms me.

  5. Olivia says:

    I’m existential AF and these thoughts go through my head on the daily. I’m 32 and feel the same as you do! I then wonder … are we being too hard on ourselves?

  6. Amy says:

    I love your honesty in this post. Transitional periods can always feel a bit funky. I too feel like some days I’m still a child and others like I’ve lived so much more than I really have…the idea that we are supposed to have life all figured out isn’t realistic. I feel like I’m still figuring out what I want to do when I grow up, and isn’t that a beautiful thing? To be constantly learning, growing, experiencing, and changing?

  7. Marion says:

    Good that I’m not the only one. I’m 33 and most of the time I feel like I’m 12 and I don’t want to do any adult things, but then I realize that I’m 33 and I feel like I achieved nothing at all in my life. I feel like all the others did with 25 more than I did with 33.
    One moment you feel too young for your life and then you feel to old for the goals you had as a child.

  8. Jamie says:

    I thonkthink lots of people feel this way. There is no true adulthood it seems, only certain responsibilities and how you handle them? I’m not sure. I struggled with the pace set by society, felt so much pressure to succeed, finish an education, get a good job and to have to do that effortless as well. Now I try to remember that everyone has their own pace and selfworth isn’t tied to jobs or how much you own.

  9. Sandra says:

    Thanks for this post! I feel exactly the same, like Im stuck in my 21-22 years old. Everything keeps growing in my surroundings but not me! It is really weird. But we dont have to blame ourselves for living a different life.
    Despite going at the pace of society seems to bring hapinness, many times it only brings confusion and frustration because maybe you dont really want to live like that.

    Staying true to oneself’s priorities is the basis to real happiness!

  10. Katy says:

    I think everyone thinks that. The older I get, the more I realize that no one has their life figured out. And even though I’m getting older, I certainly don’t feel any older. It’s only when I look at old photos of myself do I realize how much I’ve aged. On a related note, I realized I’ve been coming to your blog on and off for about half of my life at this point (I’m 35). I just wanted to say that it’s nice! Even though I don’t come all the time, when I do, it’s like seeing a blast from the past and it’s nice to hear that we’re all just trying to muddle our way through life.

  11. Hillary says:

    Wao! Just WAO! I ended here thanks to ColormeCourtney. I am not much of a blog reader BUT when I read the title I was intrigued, and I don’t regret reading it, because as horrible as it sounds, I am kind of glad that I’m not the only one feeling the same way, feeling like I’m so young yet I have had time to accomplish things and I haven’t. Adulthood is just so frustrating. Thank you for this. And also that last sentence was genius.

  12. Lolli says:

    Thank you for your honesty. I think many other adults our age also think this way. Are we just pretending to know what we are doing? Can I look for lifes answers at the back of the book?

  13. Kandi says:

    I needed to read this. I had my 34th birthday over the weekend and I am having so many similar thoughts this morning. Thank you! I think we’re all doing what we are supposed to be doing at this time but…it’s just so nice to feel like I’m not alone in having these thoughts/feelings!

  14. Erica says:

    BIG MOOD! I am 31 and have no idea what I’m doing! I am married with a house but no idea when it comes to an actual career I want to settle down with. I also believed I wouldn’t live past high school. I’m not sure why… maybe I just couldn’t wrap my brain around what people did after that point… I still can’t!

  15. Rebeca RM says:

    I’ve followed your blog and instagram for quite a bit now.. but this post just hit me hard! I can completely relate and I’m thankful that you chose to share this with us. There is always comfort in knowing that we’re not a lone in dealing with issues like this!
    (For the record, I thought I’d be married by 22. I’m now 32 and glad that didn’t happen!)

  16. Emily Davis says:

    It’s always refreshing to read these honest posts, Keiko! I definitely feel this pressure, too, in my twenties. I don’t know that I ever even want to be a mom, yet I do feel a sense of urgency to set up my life a certain way so that I can have a “successful” career by the time I want to seriously consider having children. I’m not much of a real real adult myself, but I’m always here to help support you the best I can in pursuit of all of your creative ventures!
    And Luke is always more than happy to give financial advice! 🙂

    Emily

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      We’re dog moms — isn’t that enough?! 😉 But in all seriousness, I will take any financial advice that Luke has for me!

  17. Rhiannon says:

    I will be turning 29 this Year; I’m substitute teaching and Directing a small high school Drama Club. I ALWAYS have the feeling that 10 year old me would be disappointed in the path I’ve forged for myself. She knew she what she wanted; A life in the theatres of NYC. I never seem to have enough money to move down, but I think about it every day.
    I’ve kept up with You on Instagram and your blog and I would like to thank you! You bring Joy into this world!

  18. Wendy B says:

    I would not worry about this… at 47 I am happily married without kids, but even now I cannot think of myself as a woman, I still feel like a girl. I was shocked to see my 16 year old cousin wearing high heels, when I myself still feel heels are too ‘womanly’ for me. I wear sneakers and flats and people tell me I look young for my age. Then again… I have to get my roots done every 4 weeks to avoid the skunk line… and when I run a 15 miler.. well, let’s just say that my walk is a little less bouncy the next day, haha. However, mentally, I feel better than ever, I feel a lot more at ease with myself … my advice : enjoy life every single day and don’t worry too much about adulthood… I prefer to stay young at heart X

  19. Dee says:

    Thanks for sharing this – it’s nice to know I’m not alone! I’ve never wanted marriage or children – I’ve been with my partner for 11 years and we love our life just as it is, but it’s hard to not compare when, as you said, people are having children, getting married, and buying houses. I do want to buy a house one day, but it turns out everyone else was secretly saving throughout their 20s to do this, and no one told me! So as I turn 30, I’ve know I’ve got to start budgeting and saving. But it’s hard when you live in a capital city where rent costs so much, so it’s hard to know where compromises should be! X

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      Right? Who are these 20-somethings that have their finances in order? I was just scraping by for much of my 20s! Hahaha

  20. Lauren Elyse says:

    OMG girl, you are just voicing what so many in our general demographic feel. We are a weird generation, I think. (I say “we” but I’m not exactly sure what generation I am, so maybe it’s not “we”. I just turned 39. I’m a Xennial, whatever that is, but I feel way more connected to Gen X than to Millennials…) Our lives are so different from those of generations that came before us. What used to be “normal” for “adults” is either much harder to come by (the dream job, house, car, etc) because of external factors, or is not desirable anymore (getting married young, having kids young or at all, etc) because of internal factors. The world has changed and we are the age group on the bubble when it comes to those changes. On the one hand, we are old enough to remember when “normal” was actually normal, but we are young enough to know that “normal” doesn’t quite fit anymore. I think it’s really common for people of our general age group to feel confused about this stuff. I mean, we are the people who question everything else, so why not these choices and plans too? Just breathe deep and surrender to the flow. You’ll figure out what you want someday, even if it’s not by making a conscious decision, but rather just ending up where you’re meant to be. xo

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      I’m technically a millennial (34) and in some ways I can relate to other millennial (perpetual freelancer over here) but in other ways I do feel slightly behind. It’s like I feel like a baby and an old lady all at once!

      • Sarah says:

        YES! WTF is escrow re-evaluation for my mortgage and why does my knee hurt when it rains? (31 years old)

        • Keiko Lynn says:

          I wish I had the answers for you, but I don’t know, either! haha

  21. Mrs. Anderson says:

    I’m a 38 year old woman, married with two daughters and a mortgage. I still look around sometimes and wonder who authorized all of this. I don’t feel my age and certainly don’t feel like an adult. It’s all still completely strange but I think the beauty of it is that there isn’t a hard fast rule to life. Live it and love it the way that makes you happy.

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      “Who authorized this?” should be the title of the book of our generation. Seems appropriate! 🙂

  22. Katie Males says:

    This is so true! I joke all the time that I’m getting old and people assume you have to be married if you’re in your mid-twenties! i feel like I haven’t achieved much at 25 and I’m so thankful you have written this as i don’t feel alone! What a beautiful photo as well x

  23. Jess Hissem says:

    I feel the same way. I am 36, and I guess, what others would consider somewhat successful in my career because I make decent money compared to younger Millennials and I own my own home (I live in Cleveland and it’s much easier to own here than in NYC). Some times I feel like I was a teenager just yesterday and that adulting is so hard. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that I am not crazy!

  24. Bia says:

    I share the sentiment.

  25. Andrea says:

    Feel exactly the same!! I’m 31 years old, turning 32 this year. Cant believe it!

  26. Gabbs says:

    Hola! Soy de México y me siento igual, voy a cumplir 31 y me siento como si tuviera 25. Es raro pensar que todos hacen sus vidas y se están casando y tiendo hijos y yo sigo igual, sin creerme adulta.
    Saludos y gracias por compartir tu historia. ??

  27. Victoria says:

    What a beautiful post! It really resonates with me, and I think with anyone in their 30s (especially women). A “nonconventional” career/lifestyle will always make one feel like there’s some growing up to do…but it’s really all relative to the people we compare ourselves to.

    Music, as you alluded to, is how you can tell you’re getting old, lol! Missing music from your youth (now called throwbacks), and not being able to keep up with and understand the newest top 40 hits, meanwhile the singers get younger and younger.

    Our heart, mind, and soul stay forever youthful…and it’s just merely out of synch with our physical age. If only they kept up with each other at the same pace.

    30’s the new 20 anyways!

    Victoria
    http://www.chicvic.com

    • Keiko Lynn says:

      I’m now that adult who has no idea who most of the celebrities are at the Grammys. hahaha

      • Heather says:

        HIlarious! That’s when I knew I was older myself- when I had to say “Who the heck is THAT”

  28. Sarah says:

    I am right there with you! I am bugging out constantly this year because it’s my 10 year anniversary…and I’m 31. i’m very confident i found my soul mate, but damn. that’s a long time. and i still feel like i have no ideal what the hell i’m doing most days and we’re all just figuring it out as we go i guess!s

  29. Jamie Kirk says:

    I’m 32 and this is so relatable.

  30. Sabrina Espere says:

    Lol…I really needed this! Yet, I am 39 (yikes), I still think I am 25! Your blog post made me feel so much better and the Michael Jackson song “You are not alone” rang true! Let’s do this! Live and be young forever!!!! Going after everything we ever wanted and creating new wants and dreams to go after! Create and live our best life!