Single Mama Reflects on Adolescence: Hearts

Allie Wade

I went to a concert with my sister last night.  I haven’t been to a show in ages and forgot how late they are.  I had a single beer before the show and by 9:15 before the headliner even came on, I was glassy eyed and yawning.  And it was raining outside… so that just made it even more sleepy-ish.

Being at the show, I looked around and saw girls in their early twenties with hearts in their eyes.  Yes, sing to me, sing to me about wounded hearts and how some day all of this will be better.  His words are so deep – they speak to me.  Yes.  More.  I totally relate to you.  Take me onto your tour bus.  I love you.

While I do love the music of Joshua Radin, I felt like I have recently graduated.  Just a little.  Maybe it is being in therapy again, maybe it’s because I feel like I’m learning more about myself – both the good and the bad which is liberating, or maybe it’s because I’ve started to care about what is going to happen to me.

I’m reading this book by James Hollis called “The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife.”  It’s a trip.  This guy is incredibly pessimistic about humankind, generalizes the shit out of everything, and yet has an honesty about the way he puts things that is hard to deny.  He says adolescence is from ages 12-28 and I really think it makes sense.  He says we all go through major change physically, emotionally, etc every seven years.  Think of the changes between 14, 21, 28 and 35.  How much more we know, care, and are changed by the hurdles that we faced during each of those ages.  He says that many of us just act like adults and still feel like children – if we do what the big people do, then everyone will think I am a big person too. Many of us haven’t properly experienced our passage into adulthood and hold onto many parts of childhood – assuming that with time and age they will go away.  He addresses everything about the person like projection, the midlife crisis, basic needs etc, but this part about acting like a grown up really spoke to me.

Living by myself, being a mom, paying the bills and approaching 30, I think I’m a grown up, but I still toss and turn about the same things that I did when I was in high school.  Relationship drama, friends who disappoint, the people I have disappointed, who I am going to marry, how many kids I will have, and what I will be when I grow up…oh and what I am going to wear tomorrow and I really can’t wait to see who wins Project Runway.  Important stuff.  Is it me?  Am I doing something wrong since I don’t have all the answers to questions from a decade ago?  I found Hollis’s explanation almost comforting, because I’m still just trying to figure it out.  At least I’m not claiming to know it all and put it in a box with pretty wrapping paper and a bow.  Right?  Can you tell I’m in school learning about self care and therapy?!  It’s really great.

As teenagers, if we knew how hard life could be, we’d stop looking forward to the rest of it.  Heartache, stress, pressure, expectations, and the reality of death would stop us from trying for our fairytale.  I so wanted to be a grown up, just to do things my own way… and like those girls with heart-filled eyes, I suppose I’m still just trying to figure out what that is.  Life is good and it’s all perspective.  To stop trying and stop searching would be sad in its own way as well.  Worry and happiness keep us balanced.  Searching and exploring keep us young and inquisitive.  And as Hollis put it – wisdom is humbling.

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