Milestone Miscalculation: Age vs. Expectations

I tend to stress more over non-monumental birthdays than over the traditional milestones. Twenty-one wasn’t that big of a deal in my mind. But twenty-two? It gave me that ohmygosh-I-am-so-old-that-21-is-no-big-deal feeling.

I turn 27 next week. I’ve been thinking about 27 a lot over the past few months. I’m pretty sure 27 means that I am in my late-20s. I’m really comfortable being in my mid-20s. I am also really comfortable with the idea of being 30. I can imagine my 30-year-old self. She’s mature. She’s fabulous–she’s maybe had a baby but you couldn’t tell by the hot bod she’s sporting. She’s wise, strong in her walk with Jesus, comfortable with who she is faults and all.

However, I think that near-perfect 30-year-old in my mind might be the problem. When I think 27, I don’t smile and think to myself, What a lovely woman I’m becoming! No, I think, Great, three more years until I face the disappointment I will be to myself at 30. Pressure’s on.

It’s like when I turned 16 and I thought I would be so much cooler–with the confidence and cup-size of all the 29-year-olds that play heavily-scripted 16-year-olds on TV. At 16, I noted the difference, felt like I’d been duped into having high expectations, and moved on. I imagine I’ll do the same at 30, but that’s not doing much to alleviate my 27-year-old performance anxiety.

The reaction older people often give to twenty-somethings when we talk about aging is, “You’re not old. Just wait until you see what old is. Relish your youth, your supple skin, your strong bones, and your iron stomach!” And then they look longingly at your fistful of curly-fries and pop a few Tums.

But the thing is, twenty-seven is the oldest I’ll ever have been. Compared to all the other ages I’ve been, twenty-seven is old. I am totally aware that 27 is younger than 40 and 93, and I’m not at all upset about getting older. I’m not mourning the slow and painful loss of my youth. I am wondering how to navigate the murky waters of becoming someone other than the person you thought you’d become.

Have you ever felt pressure to be awesome by a certain age? What did you do when the day of disillusionment came?


50 Reasons I’m Glad You’re My Aunt

My Aunt Annie turned 50 earlier this week. In honor of her birthday, I want to share fifty things (listed in no particular order) with you (and her!) about why she makes such a fantastic aunt and friend.

  1. She knew I’d want a KitchenAid standmixer before I did.
  2. She (and my grandma) got me a KitchenAid standmixer for college graduation.
  3. She makes the best pumpkin pie in the world. Hands down.
  4. She shared her pumpkin pie recipe with me.
  5. She shares memories with me from when I was young without  making me feel like it’s a bummer I grew up.
  6. She gave me a microplane grater for Christmas before I knew how to cook.
  7. She shares and encourages my love of freshly grated nutmeg.
  8. She found and shared this amazing recipe for nutmeg muffins.
  9. I did my first baking with citrus zest with her while making Christmas cookies. (And I thought it was so weird.)
  10. We’ve had good conversations about Jesus and the church.
  11. She was excited to call Dexter her nephew.
  12. She loves our puppies and wants them to come to her house even though Fitz has both peed on her carpet and thrown up on her area rug.
  13. She shares Dexter’s love of “i has a hotdog.”
  14. We share a love of Sudoku.
  15. She appreciates and makes a good cup of tea.
  16. She understands that sometimes tea just tastes better when drunk out of a bone china tea cup and stirred with a tiny spoon.
  17. She gives good teacher advice, like, “Just think of the summer as the slow season–then you won’t be disappointed at all the work you end up doing.”
  18. We’ve had good conversations about love and family.
  19. She’s taken me to the bookstore for my birthday every year since I was young.
  20. She continues to take me the bookstore, even though I’ve gone from thinking the hot cocoa wasn’t sweet enough, to drinking mochas, to drinking lattes, to drinking tea.
  21. She writes in each of the books she buys me for my birthday, so that even after I forget what The Babysitter’s Club: Mary Anne Saves the Day was about, I can still remember good trips to the bookstore.
  22. We’ve had interesting and educational trips about politics.
  23. She and Uncle Dave drove me home from Iowa City in the middle of the night when I was really homesick.
  24. She didn’t freak out when I asked her in the car how you know when you’re ready to get married.
  25. She took me to eat at Atlas for the first time with my college roommate, Anne.
  26. She introduced Anne and I to Atlas flourless chocolate cake, which we affectionately refer to as “chocolate paradise.”
  27. She was a vegetarian for a while while I was growing up, making me think that it wasn’t that weird of a thing to do.
  28. She sets a good example of making exercise a part of everyday life.
  29. She and Dave bought my books for college.
  30. She’s a great recipe source for both healthy meals and decadent treats.
  31. She grew flowers all summer long to decorate the stage at my wedding.
  32. She made all the floral arrangements for my wedding except for my bride and bridesmaids bouquets. My biggest wedding regret is that I didn’t ask her to do those bouquets, too.
  33. She and Dave paid our “tuition” for Financial Peace University.
  34. She’s a good sport when my family members dress up like clowns or give her clown-themed gifts for her birthday even though she has a bad case of coulrophobia.
  35. She’s a great puppy-mom to her 15-year-old dog, Joy-Joy. I remember her bringing Joy-Joy over the evening she got her and how happy she was about her cute new puppy.
  36. She did lots of eco-friendly things, like not using paper towels, way before it was trendy.
  37. She gave me Gumby and Pokey figurines when I was about 5-years-old. It might have been because I found her keys. Regardless, I remember thinking it was pretty fantastic payment for whatever service I had rendered.
  38. She let me come work with her and use the cash register at Global Gifts when I was in elementary school.
  39. She gave me a necklace with a pink string for a chain and a silver heart pendant as a gift for my first day of kindergarten. I still have it.
  40. She gave me a pair of earrings with a stained-glass-style picture of the moon and water when I was a little girl that I still wear. I get compliments on them all the time.
  41. We can talk about organizing things like chores, spices, and cabinets for fun.
  42. She gave me the idea to have magnetic spice holders on the wall and made sure I didn’t make the mistake of storing them right above my stove.
  43. She took me to paint pottery when I was young. I remember being astounded by how cool the bowl she painted was.
  44. We share a love of list-making.
  45. She’s one of my most faithful blog readers and encouragers.
  46. She’s brave–like get in a motorcycle accident, break some ribs, heal, buy a new bike, go on a motorcycle trip to Utah kind of brave.
  47. She instituted family nights where we’d watch Monk and Psych together. I’d always wish I was back home for those Friday nights when I lived in the dorms.
  48. We share a love of Indian food.
  49. She married a smart, jazzy, biker-dude, Dave.
  50. She always makes me feel like she’s really proud of me.

Annie, I’m so fortunate to have you as an aunt and friend! I love you!