The older I get, the more I wonder whether there even is such a thing as a grown-up. Most of the time I think we’re all just flailing about and none of us really know what the fuck we’re doing anyway.
I don’t know if I qualify as a grown-up. I mean, I may be financially independent now and I’ve learned the four P’s of marketing, but I still don’t know anything about stocks and I still don’t have a driver’s license.One way in which I do notice time passing, though, is that I don’t seem to feel things quite as intensely as I used to. It’s like someone set the transparency higher on my life, like I still see the colors but what used to be a flaming red has become an orange-tinted kind of coral and the deep blue that used to feel like I would drown in it and never resurface suddenly seems a less insurmountable shade of petrol.
And I think that filter that seems to cover everything as you get older is perspective. When you’re older you realize that nothing matters quite as much as you feel it does. In fact, your life most likely won’t matter at all and fifty years from now you’ll be dead. That’s very sad, but it’s also a weird kind of comforting.
It’s sad because it takes more to make you feel anything at all. The moments where you feel light-headed with happiness become fewer. But when something bad happens, you know you’re not going to feel upset forever. Your stomach might still tie up into an inextricable knot and you might still not eat for a week. But you know that at some point, you’re going to walk past a kebab shop or join your friends at a restaurant that serves burgers and you’re going to be tired or a bit tipsy and for a moment you’re going to forget about whatever it is that’s making you sick to your stomach. And you’re going to eat. Maybe someone is going to make a great joke, or maybe the guy who sells you the kebab is going to compliment your smile. And so you’re going to smile again. For just a second. And then for a bit longer the week after.
Because at a certain age you understand that you’re one in seven billion people and a lot of those people have had to overcome far worse than whatever you might be facing. You become less self-absorbed. You are not special or different. You are a tiny, ant-sized spot in a giant universe where a bunch of other tiny, ant-sized spots scurry about busily. And on any given day, some of us will be facing heart-break, rejection, poverty, death, destruction, war, hunger, torture, fear, unspeakable grief. And yet a great many people find a way to be fine.
And you’re not special. And so eventually you’re going to be fine again, too.