Whatever You Want

“What do people our age do for fun?”

“Whatever we want. And whatever you enjoy doing becomes your version of ‘what a thirtysomething does for fun.’ So, figure out what you enjoy. And do that.”

I am annoyingly on-the-nose when I’m giving my friends advice. I have no idea why I suck so badly at advising myself. But there it is — a truth that I’m forced to come back to over and over again. There’s no blueprint for the life I’ve created. I don’t make enough to be the “rich/well-traveled auntie.” Am not energetic enough to be the “forever young auntie.” And don’t enjoy the opposite sex enough to be the “flirty auntie.” I have to carve my middle-aged life out of the big ball of clay that is the endless space and time I’ve afforded myself with my lifestyle choices.

That idea continues to thrill and terrify me.

Too Old for This Shit

An upside to removing “girl” from your moniker: you don’t feel as guilty about how “old” you’ve become.

And guys, I’m old.

In bed by 9:00 PM, even on Saturday nights

No, I’m not sending you a photo and if you don’t have anything interesting to say, I’m not returning this text

If I don’t walk at least six miles a week, my body parts start creaking

Not downloading any new social apps; whatever doesn’t make it to my Twitter or IG feeds isn’t meant to be seen

Retired from twerking and the best you’ll get from me at the function is a line dance and a two-step

Like the new rap girls but am fifteen years older than most of them, so I blast “W.A.P.” while cleaning my kitchen because I’m not getting dressed to go anywhere and why is your thirty-five-year-old ass so worried about these young girls’ business

Old.

And I’m okay with that.

After watching my peers trip over themselves to participate in “Hot Girl Summer” back in 2019, I decided to age gracefully. That I preferred the limits of “age-appropriateness” over clinging to youth in order to appear lively or attractive.

That was another mindfuck of being “Skinny Black Girl.” It was hard to reconcile the grown-ass woman in my head and in my mirror when I still identified as a “girl.” If I was going to embrace my age instead of trying to defy it, I had to embrace myself, as is—not as I used to be.

More pragmatic than hopeful. More discerning than open. More self-contained than expressive. With neither the energy nor desire to twist myself in knots over anything. Least of all to prove I’ve “still got it.”

Yes, I dye my grays (my tapered sides look cleaner when they’re all one color). No, I don’t plan on becoming a sedentary couch potato that doesn’t care how her clothes fit. Yes, I’m still open to new ideas and information. But I’m over the trying.

I am—quite literally—too old for that shit.

sbg, this is your life

A couple of months ago, I declared myself average.

I looked at my life: my job and salary, apartment, looks, talents and hobbies, and material trappings and realized I likely won’t go much further than cute, working-class administrative professional in a cute apartment who can write a little bit when so moved.

It sounded defeatist–and boy, was I admonished for it–but saying it aloud was a peaceful, clear break in an otherwise restless, foggy year.

See, it’s been a long time since thinking big served me.

When I was a kid, growing up in a marginal neighborhood with a well-meaning mother who told me I had a duty to fly even though she provided no safety net, “thinking big” was the escape hatch. I had to see my life beyond the house, neighborhood, and schools where I spent my formative years. I had to believe there was more for me than babies and unreliable boyfriends. In my lowest moments–demoralizing heartbreaks, depressive and suicidal spells, interruptions to my carefully-laid plans–“something more” buoyed me back to the surface, out of my dark depths and into the sunshine.

But.

My ideal self haunted me as much as it motivated me. On a dime, it could pull me out of misery or turn to quicksand around my feet and drown me in my daily failure to live up to it. How much of my anxiety and depression, I wondered, was triggered by the fear of wasted potential?

Why, at 35, was I still fixated on what I could be?

I’m as single and (surgically, permanently) childless as I dreamed. I have the job title I’ve coveted since 2010. I live in the neighborhood I’ve wanted to live in since 2009 when an old boyfriend moved here and I just knew we were on the path to cohabitation. And my apartment, with its hardwood floors and plenty of light, is everything I could want for my budget. Shit. I even like my car.

Why couldn’t I sit HERE at the table I set instead of letting my food get cold window shopping for a prettier table?

To quote the title of my favorite book of 2018, What If This Were Enough? 

So I am average.

That is neither an insult nor a testament to what I deserve. It is a statement of fact; what my life reflects back to me every morning.

I want to immerse myself in what is–what I can touch, taste, see, and feel right now–without comparing it to an idealized version in my head.