07.26.12 Truth & Wisdom

Being a Grown Up

Being a Grown Up

BY Janey Ballantyne

On Saturday my friend came over and we ate pizza and watched The Muppets. We are 35. I can honestly say it was one of the most fun evenings I’ve had in a while. So what if the movie’s not a patch on the ‘turn left at the fork in the road’ brilliance of the original, it stayed true to the characters and message of the Muppets and it transported us to a simpler, safer time in our lives, free of drama and responsibility.

Having said that, the life I live now is actually not hugely dramatic or responsible compared to most of my friends and I have recently been worrying that I am being left behind – the only one of my group who is not yet, and may never be, a grown up. All around me people are buying houses, getting married, having children, things which traditionally give definition to the concept of ‘grown up’ and here I am renting from a friend, single, transitory, with not a plan in sight. I am stubbornly clinging to the conceit of youth, to the vain imaginings of Neverland, to the dim hope that I never have to change my life because I’m quite content as it is, actually.

I’m blessed with an incredible group of girlfriends, many of whom have been friends for over 20 years. We grew up together, we have so much history together that when I look at them I see the best parts of myself reflected in their eyes and their smiles, memories of all the love, advice and laughter we have shared over the years. We have always spoken candidly with each other and dinner the other night was no exception…only (and this has been happening a lot lately) I had nothing to contribute, no advice to impart, nothing to say. Of course this didn’t stop me and I ended up saying a lot of things, but everything that came out of my mouth felt asinine and irrelevant, juvenile and self centred. My drunken dating stories lost their lustre among their stories of trying to start a family, of being newly married, of planning for the future. After so many years of growing up at the same pace, I am finding it difficult to adjust to the differences between us and am having to ask myself if it’s time for me to keep up, to grow up, to settle down.

I’m not entirely sure why these two concepts – growing up and settling down – are so intertwined in my mind. I know many people who are proper grown ups who have never settled down, and plenty of people who have settled down and are as far from grown up as it is possible to be. But if they are not the same thing they are definitely related and I just don’t feel ready to do either, it feels too much like facing reality, like hard work. I know my friends don’t expect me to keep up with them – they would probably insist that they like my drunken dating stories, it allows them to live vicariously through me but I really don’t want to be that person. I want to be in their gang again, to understand what they are going through and share in their successes and failures, like I always have, but I am at such a different place in my life that for the time being I have to accept our differences and support them in other ways. One day I’m sure, my priorities will change and I will forget the name of the boy they gave a blowjob to behind the skate park and be able to remember the name of their firstborn child. One day. After all it’s not a race and I’m sure they are blindly negotiating the complexities of real life just like I am blindly avoiding them in my bubble of irresponsibility. We are all still growing, if not growing up.

So maybe I’ll grow up and maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll settle down and maybe I won’t but for now the differences between my friends and I will remain, but so will the honesty and so will the support, of that I am sure. Our paths may have diverged – I may have turned left at the fork in the road and they may have turned right but we will meet again because no matter how grown up you become, the friends you made when you were 12 will always remember who you were before life got in the way.

Featured image by Dickon Farmar

Janey Ballantyne is an aspiring screenwriter with a passion for salsa (both the sauce and the dance), film and New York City. Her greatest achievement was winning the Junior Literary Trophy in the Mid-Somerset Festival aged 10 and a half. Oh and, more recently, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity. She currently lives in Notting Hill and writes a weekly blog at janeyballantyne.com . You can also find her on twitter @janeyballantyne

Comments

  • Samantha V

    Fab piece Janie!

  • http://twitter.com/IAmJoyk23 Only Joy-Carey I see

    oh wow ! i swear you are just a more grown  up version of me , the difference is simply age maybe a few things here and there but i do feel the same feel like am sitting with my best friends with nothing to add to the conversation. i too can’t wait for the day when we are all on the same page agan..you might be surprise as well that there might be a lot left to talk about , i recently re-connected with one of my girls >greatest feeling ever< 

  • Deborah_silver

    Very poignant piece.  Friendship. Is it our similarities, differences, history or needs that keeps our  friendships alive? Personally, I think it is an undefined magic that makes it work. And long may that work for you Janey.    

Every week in your inbox!

  • Exclusive notes and videos from Amanda de Cadenet.
  • Early access to our Limited Space Workshops.
  • Amanda’s Favorites and Special Offers shared with you weekly.
  • Exclusive notes and videos from Amanda de Cadenet.
  • Early access to our Limited Space Workshops.
  • Amanda’s Favorites and Special Offers shared with you weekly.
Subscribe Now

to receive our newsletter every Tuesday.

Sign up here for my Weekly Newsletter and Exclusive Updates: