I don’t talk about kids very often in this column, because I don’t have any and I don’t know anybody who has any and I have so little maternal instinct that when I was in high school and our next-door neighbors asked me to babysit for them, my dad laughed, as if they had asked me if I’d like to learn how to levitate. However, I am not totally dead inside, and there are a lot of things I really admire about kids, like their creativity, optimism and amazing skin. It says a lot that when an adult is asked to reevaluate their lives, they often wonder, what would my 12-year-old self think about me? (Answer: nothing good. Oh my God, ew, what is going on with that haircut? And why do you still have roommates? We told Mom we were going to be a lawyer.)
It is so easy to get down on yourself about not being “enough of an adult,” especially these days, when it feels like you’re doing everything you can just to keep it together in the hellscape that is modern life. One Google search for the word “adulting” (gag me with a spoon) reveals a tirade of insecurities for you to take on. What’s your credit score? Do you have symptoms of insulin resistance? Is your boyfriend secretly planning on breaking up with you for someone who doesn’t cry when he forgets to text her during boys’ night? Someone I went to high school with is a staff photographer for the New Yorker, and yesterday, I put “take a shower” on my to-do list.
I say, forget about adulting and ask yourself, what would a kid do? Probably drive to Hy-Vee, buy a sheet cake, eat half of it, and then throw the other half at the principal’s car. I’m not suggesting you do that, exactly, but try to bring that kind of whimsy and energy to your daily life. Go play outside. Call your grandma more. Do something with your car keys and minuscule disposable income that would make your 12-year-old self jealous as hell. After all, her curfew is 10 p.m. Yours is at least midnight.
P.S. Look for me on Halloween. I’ll be at the Deadwood, violating the bounds of common decency all night. I’m going as a sexy bunny, and my boyfriend is going as Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 311.