Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Becoming an Adult

Today is my thirtieth birthday. My body hasn’t fallen apart, my hair hasn’t turned gray, and physically I feel exactly the same today as I did yesterday when I was a strapping young twenty-nine year old. But I do feel older. I really didn’t think that turning thirty would mean this much to me.

Back when I was twenty-two, I heard the statement “Thirty is the new eighteen”. At the time I was living with my parents, had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, and generally felt young and imature. So I fully agreed with the idea of adulthood not beginning until the age of thirty. Twenty somethings tend to be a fairly imature lot, and in today’s society as people often live into their nineties adolecents does extend well into the twenties.

I do think of myself as an adult, and appreciate the idea of entering adulthood now that I am entering my thirties. I have multiple degrees, an engineering career, a loving husband, and a completed novel. The only things missing from my life are an agent, a publisher, 2.5 kids, and a dog. I’m allegic to dogs, but fully expect the other items to appear in my life sometime in the next decade.

I tend to be on the young side among my friends. Having my birthday in August ment that I was always one of the youngest kids in my class at school. Once I got out of school and entered the working world, I was again younger than most of the people living in the land of adulthood. I have made a few younger friends over the past few years, but the majority of my current friends are between five and ten years older than me. This means that I was just meeting my husband at the time that all my other friends were getting married. I managed to go this entire summer without attending a single wedding. Instead I’ve come to the age where I’m constantly running off to baby showers.

So why should I be freaking out about turning thirty? I’m an adult. I’ve been an adult for a good three or four years now. I should be able to handle being a thirty-something instead of a twenty-something. The problem is that I’m still imature. I tend to think like a teenager. When I first attempted to write fiction, I was a teenager and logically wrote YA. When I started writing slightly more seriously in my early twenties I still wrote YA, because I really didn’t have any adult experiences to pull from yet. As I entered adulthood, I fully expected that I would start writing stuff for adults. I’ve had lots of ideas for adult books, but I haven’t written any of them because they just feel hard.

But while 28 and 29, I was able to write what I believe is a good YA novel with absolutely no difficulty. Thinking like a teenager is both fun and easy for me. Talking like a teenager feels natural, and writing from a teenager’s point of view is equally comfortable. Now that I’m turning thirty I feel a bit more like a poser. I’m spending all my time living in the heads of my sixteen year old imaginary friends – and now I’m almost twice their age. Where is this Peter Pan syndrome coming from? Why am I so reluctant to grow up?

I’m trying not to let it bother me. I really like writing YA, and have given up on thinking my writing is going to grow up with my body. Most of the time, I am very adult and can handle being a thirty year old. If in my mind, I’m forever sixteen. I know I can’t always be young, but who says I can’t always be imature.


Stephanie Faris said...

My 30s have been the best years of my life. As for my writing...it seems I can more easily write YA now than I could in my 20s. I don't know why that is because I don't have kids so it can't be attributed to that.

CKHB said...

Happy Birthday! You don't look a day over 29. (Ba-dum BUM.)

I don't think it's a Peter Pan syndrome, I think it's an appreciation for the difficulties of a certain, very important, time in everyone's life. Plus, I know a number of authors (including Neil Gaiman, I think) who firmly believe writing for a YA audience is HARDER, because the readers are more focused and therefore more critical and can be more inspired.

Go for it! There's no shame in YA.

Bryan, Porsche, Mircea, and Casper said...

Happy Birthday to you!!!! Hope you had an great day!