Lately I’ve been fielding a lot of questions. Questions like…
- “Did you know that haircut makes the sunburn on your ears stand out even more than it might have otherwise?”
- “Are you absolutely, positively sure that you want to cancel your business account with Yelp? Can we call you three times a day just in case you change your mind?”
- “Is anyone in here? I thought I heard crying.”
- “What is that in your teeth?”
- “Why did you start a YouTube channel, Stephanie? Why? Why, why, why? Why would anyone do such a thing?“
All but two of those queries have me at a loss. I really, really do want to cancel the Yelp account, and I started Life & Steph because time travel hasn’t been invented yet. Duh.
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I was listening to a podcast the other day (I know we just started this post, but let’s take a quick tangent here. It is so cool that this is the future and I can use my tiny pocket computer to order a radio program down from the sky and play it anywhere I want, any time I want, and it’s called a podcast. That sounds like something straight out of a science fiction novel, and not like something that occasionally lulls me to sleep, resulting in me drooling on my tiny pocket computer. OK, back to the thing.) and the guest said that being in your 20s is like a second puberty.
Good thing I dodged that bullet, I laughed to myself, picking at one of several zits that recently appeared on my chin.
I was still thinking about it the next day. Being in your 20s isn’t like second puberty at all, I said aloud to the cats while browsing online stores for clothes that would finally make me cool.
I can’t even imagine going through that horrible nightmare again, I thought two days later, doing my best not to burst into tears about nothing at all. I was having the weirdest sense of déjà vu.
Finally, halfway through a meal that consisted of everything in my kitchen, I had an epiphany. Hey, I thought. This is totally crazy, but I’m starting to think that being in your 20s might be like going through a second puberty. Actually, that would explain a lot.
- My body is doing weird stuff. It took my neck a week to feel better after I slept on it funny, and now it does this weird, wet popping thing every time I tilt it. Also, gaining weight is suddenly easy. Frighteningly easy.
- I’m really moody. The tiniest things can set me off. One minute I’m on top of the world, and the next I’d like to crawl into a hole and die. Today I actually threw a temper tantrum. It’s like seventh grade all over again.
- I keep experimenting with new identities. Who am I? What do I want? How do I get there? How much eyeliner is required?
- I’ve been wearing a lot of eyeliner. And I purchased it because I was feeling emotional and thought eyeliner would fix everything. I’m pretty sure I had the exact same conversation with myself when I was 13.
- No one thinks I’m cool. And I’m trying really, really hard to be cool. Because cool kids have a lot of friends. Oh yeah…
- I’m struggling to make new friends and keep the old ones around. In eighth grade, my parents encouraged me to join a soccer team to meet people. I don’t want to join another soccer team.
- What is the deal with boys? I just figured out dating them, and now my friends are marrying them. I’m still a little worried about catching cooties.
- Adults are being condescending. I don’t have everything figured out, ok? YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME.
Being in your 20s is almost exactly like middle school all over again. The only difference is that instead of everyone judging me based on my shoes, they’re judging me based on the personality I developed to get through Puberty #1.
I had a lot of coping mechanisms for Puberty #1, as I recall.
- Eye-rolling. A powerful weapon against my parents, I’ve found that it’s harder to get away with a good eye roll in the workplace. That’s stupid because I’ve been in some meetings that could have benefited from some well-timed disrespect.
- Endlessly rereading To Kill a Mockingbird. Jem understood seventh-grade me, and Atticus understood Jem so he understood me, too. Now I feel more like Boo Radley.
- Distracting myself with intense crushes. I found love in the middle of Puberty #1 thanks to David Bowie in Labyrinth and Orlando Bloom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But that’s no help these days because no one has heard from Orlando Bloom since 2006 and Bowie has returned to his home in a glittery purple supernova.
- Looooooooooooooooooong phone calls with my friends. I can’t remember what we talked about for four hours at a time, but whatever it was, it worked. I tried to call my middle school friends on their landlines like old times, but Hannah’s been married for four years and Kristin moved to Florida.
- Getting really into lite rock. Eventually I found out about actual rock music, but there was a weird period between ages 11 and 12 when I would only listen to programs hosted by sultry female DJs on stations with names like KOSI. I don’t need lite rock anymore. I have podcasts. (See? It sounds like a luxury spaceship feature.)
- Writing terrible poetry. I don’t even want to talk about it.
I seem to remember that not one of these strategies worked. A few of them made puberty even more frustrating (looking at you, passionate crush on 1986 David Bowie.)
Unfortunately, I think the only way to get through the horrible, soggy marsh that is pubescence is to age out of it. I remember counting the days until I turned 18, because then I’d be free. (That’s not how it works, of course, but it gave me hope in my darkest, most poetry-heavy hours.)
The good news is that it’s only 1,432 days until I turn 30.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I have two monster zits on my face this week.
Oh wait. It’s the opposite of that.
You absolutely would know it by looking at me, because it’s actually more like two monster zits happen to have a face this week.
They’re bad. They’re angry and red, and they hurt every time I touch them, which I can’t stop doing. One is on my chin, exactly where witches keep their warts. The other is between my eyes in a spot where my glasses come very close to hiding it, but highlight it instead. I’ve been avoiding human interaction even more than usual because the second I see someone’s eyes flicker towards them, it takes everything I’ve got not to throw my arm across my face and stumble blindly away, yelling, “Don’t look at me! DON’T LOOK AT ME!”
I know it shouldn’t be like this. I have a lot of things going for me right now — my job is getting kind of exciting! I have a house that’s progressively becoming less pink!