When I was 18, I graduated from high school with no idea of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go afterward. My top-choice colleges hadn’t accepted me, and I wasn’t interested in my safety schools. Frozen by indecision, I spent what I called my “limbo year” serving coffee to the un-caffeinated white-collar working masses in the early hours, and taking yoga classes at night. My yoga instructor said something that has stuck with me since: “You’re only as young as your spine feels.”

      I had a moment during every milestone, every life change, that I was “growing up.” I moved out of my parents’ house at 19. I lived on my own when I was 22. I got a “real job” when I was 23. I got married at 24. I started a business when I was 25.

      And yet now… I don’t feel grown up. Any time I look back on these reflections, it’s like it happened to some other person. She pays the rent. She covers her own health insurance. She cooks meals, balances the budget, has her own credit card, knows how to drive, can apply mascara. Who is this woman?

      Sometimes, I see myself as others might see me. I sing along to NSYNC in my car (loudly). Whenever I get into an elevator with a mirror as part of the wall, I always stick my tongue out at my reflection, like I’m five. I collect sparkly nail polish and reward myself with cookies after a heinously bad day. I still have acne, which makes me wonder if people gauge my age as “teen” instead of “late twenties.” I got carded when I went to see Black Swan.

      I’m 27 years old and some days my spine sags and I feel like I’m 47; some days my spine feels spry and limber and I feel 17.

      How is one supposed to feel at 27? What is the “right” way to feel? to act? to be?

      I have no answers and I suspect there are none. Even my friends who are my age, who have children, act the same way I do. They hold down jobs, they take care of their lives, and they raise their kids, while blasting NSYNC and eating cookies and sometimes acting like kids themselves.

      It’s just something I’ve been thinking about as my life is prepared to move forward again, as I reach another big milestone. We are only as young as our spines feel.


      A thoughtful post, Elissa. We’re also in your shoes…married at 24, business at 25. We’re still figuring out what we want to do and where we’d like to be, but it’s never a bad idea to take time to enjoy what we have and where we are.

      Here’s to a young spine and a young heart. : D

      I’m almost 40, and I still don’t *feel* like a grownup 90% of the time. I’m just waiting until the kids learn to roll their eyes and say “You’re so immature!”

      Huh, this makes me really thoughtful. Most of the time I feel pretty grown-up, after hitting all the milestones, but I also feel more playful and free than at any other time in my life. Maybe you’re Post-GrownUp, and you get to define it and fill it any way you want. And also, hooray for new milestones!

      Here, here. I’m 2 days away from 27. I’m just starting to figure out what I want to do professionally (hint; youre an inspiration). I’m feeling young and old and behind (and some days very on point), and I spend more time wondering how everything SHOULD be/feel/seem than I do appreciating how all is. I think growing up just means gaining awareness and appreciation for everything that’s happening. Not necessarily control.

      The best part about being an adult is that you get to decide what that means.

      Playfulness is one of my most valued traits

      @Nadine – I like that. Good to remember.
      @Kandise – Being responsible. Ahhh, how I hate it!
      @Melissa – Thank you :) “I think growing up just means gaining awareness and appreciation for everything that’s happening.” This is a great point too.

      Being a kid was easier.

      I think the point of “growing up” is to be responsible, not to feel/act “old.” This is classic quarter-life crisis. Don’t worry, you’re doing it right.