What’s My Age Again: Reflecting on Getting Older

Last month I attended a Blink 182 concert and it was awesome! I had several chances growing up to see them but missed them for one reason or another so having the opportunity to see them now was great. Blink and other bands created the soundtrack of my youth and attending this concert definitely stirred memories. It made me feel young and awake but also reminded me of how old I am. I still love feeling the bass pounding in my chest and closing my eyes to the music but that white noise humming in my ears afterward? A reminder that punk (and honestly most music) should be played loud lasted longer than it did when I was younger; a gentle reminder that I’m older and, you know, hearing damage is real.

The inspiration for this post is mostly Blink 182. The concert got me thinking about what it would have been like if I had seen them when I was younger vs now. What exactly does it mean to act your age? Hell, what does it even mean to look your age? And what did I expect adulthood to be like when I was in middle and high school? It literally had me asking “what’s my age again?”

What the Hell is Caller ID?

I went to more local concerts than large ones growing up. They were cheaper, closer, and something to do on a Friday or Saturday night without much planning. Attending concerts underage isn’t the worst thing in the world but attending as an adult is far superior. Allow me to rattle off some reasons.

  • The first and foremost reason is alcohol. You’re old enough to drink which makes people-watching the younger crowd that much more entertaining and the ungodly heat that much more bearable.
  • You are your own ride. You don’t have to worry about meeting up with a parent or whoever at a certain time and place because you don’t have a car. If you don’t have your own car, then you somehow have your own means of transportation. The point is, you’re old enough to get around on your own.
  • It’s less about impressing someone. I give less fucks as an adult than I did as a kid so I won’t go to a concert just because it’s cool or skip it because it’s not. It’s about the experience and if there’s a concert coming that I’m mildly interested in, then I’m going.
  • I have the means to go. When I was younger I was either grounded, broke, or had to work so I wasn’t able to go to a lot of the concerts I wanted to. I always thought “there’s always next time.” No, sir! Bands break up! Shit happens! Do you know how many shows I’ve missed because of this? Not now. I have a budget for concerts and theater shows so I don’t miss out now. Budgets are how you know for sure you’re an adult.

My Friends Say I Should Act My Age

To be honest, I’ve never had a friend tell me I should act my age. It’s always been yelled at me by an older person claiming to be an adult. Like my mother. But what the hell does that mean? There’s no guidebook or rule book outlining how any age should act. The concert made me think about how I thought growing up would be when I was younger. I remember when I was in fourth grade playing in my room and thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m 16, then I can drive!” Then when I turned 16 and could drive it wasn’t all that exciting.

I think when we’re younger we equate being an adult with freedom. Freedom from chores? From our parents? Freedom to do what we want? Sure, whatever. Growing up does come with its freedoms (not from the previously mentioned though!) but what we don’t know until we get there is that it comes with stupid invisible rules, restrictions, and dumb-ass expectations. The great part about this is that all my friends are in the same boat as me. The “fuck, where the time go?!” boat. I thought I would get their opinions for this post. As an added bonus those friends also attended the Blink 182 concert and agreed (because they’re so fucking awesome), to answer some dumb questions.

Blink 182 may be older but they can still rock.

Nobody Likes You When You’re Twenty Three

There are three friends who took the time to answer my questions. They are represented by initials for privacy reasons. You can figure out the format from there.

Having grown up with Blink 182, did the concert make you reflect back in any way? Any particular memories that you were reminded of?

  • RB: Seeing Blink definitely reminded me a lot about high school. And the fact that Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio has replaced Tom Delong, was a double whammy of high school memories. Seeing Blink was always a bucket list item but I never got the opportunity until now. My high school boyfriend was a huge fan and I remember rocking out to them in his truck and I bought him the guitar song book from one of their albums for his 17th birthday. I’ve always loved Matt Skiba, his songs got me though some of my worst times, and getting to see him outside of Alkaline Trio was amazing, he’s crazy talented and surprisingly having him replace Tom did not detract from the experience at all for me. It was a perfect blend of the old and new.
  • JL: Lots of emotions:“Let me call you when I’m sober.”  Even the new stuff makes me think about my past.  My late twenties have been plagued by substance and alcohol abuse of my own. Oh and the promiscuity! Can’t gloss over that.  I have so many amends phone calls I should be making but T-mobile would reconsider the unlimited phone plan they offer!It seems most people feel like they didn’t get out or around enough or they are like me and feel like they went a little too hard and struggled with slowing down.  Is there such a thing as the “Goldilocks” of a twenties social life who got it just right?

    *I have the latest Blink-182 album only because it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Music. I don’t buy music anymore, just audiobooks for my commute.

  •  JM: It was high school and Blink 182 was the band that people listened. They were the first CD I remember owning that my parents didn’t know I had. I got Take Off Your Pants and Jacket and had to hide it from my parents because I was not allowed to have it. And then my sister found it and showed it to them and I got into a lot of trouble but I had hidden the CD itself so she just found the case. I managed to retain the contraband but lost the awesome art and the case and I was very sad. That my original foray into non-pop. 

    I listened to them in high school but my biggest listening days were in college. The roommate I had saw them at Hershey Park when she was in high school and she got to go back stage and meet them. So she had a copy of the Mark Tom and Travis show which is my favorite and I have the whole thing memorized. So I’m watching them play [at the concert] and I’m inserting the words and jokes that they do in between songs on their live album. Just doing that took me back to college and it was really scary.

    I had some really intense memories of those years and doing papers and just being in my dorm room with my roommate and just screaming [lyrics to Family Reunion]. It was really weird because even though the Foo Fighter’s were amazing in concert I didn’t have that experience to relate back to because I had been a fan for so long it still didn’t extend back that far. So it was a whole level of experience with Blink. I didn’t tell people that I listened to Foo Fighters, not that I was ashamed but because they weren’t as commonplace as Blink was because Blink was very commercial. Especially living here Blink 182 was more prevalent because of the skater culture so I had flashbacks of wearing my Etnies and stuff.

    There are so few bands or musical artists that you maintain from childhood to now because you change as a person and Blink and Foo Fighters are two things that really stand the test of time for me. It was really strange to go back and have memories of going to the grocery store in my Dad’s car because I didn’t have a car and having to remember to take the CD out so he wouldn’t know it was there. I would take my babysitting money to buy food because I decided I didn’t want what we were having for dinner and I wanted hot wings. That was literally the stream of thought that I had while dancing to the songs and it was transporting me back. I remember listening to that song, whatever song, at that age and now listening to that song and you’re a different person. You’re a different person than what you thought you were going to be.

When you were younger what did being an adult mean to you? If you can even remember that is…

  • RB: I always though when I was finally an adult life would be easier. I would be better prepared for the hard stuff and I would have freedom to choose my own path. So much was out of my control then and I never felt prepared to deal with it. I thought being an adult would mean having all the answers. I was sooooo wrong about that.
  • JL: Permission to have sex. I lost my virginity late in my junior year of high school. I was so scared of getting pregnant that I didn’t do it again until college when I was an “adult.” Sex is for adults. Being an adult means protected sex is good sex since you don’t have to worry. Wrong, very wrong.
  • JM: I have no idea. Seriously. The last coherent memory I had about growing up was, I think, in the fifth grade and I was obsessed with Indiana Jones and I decided I was going to be an archaeologist. That’s it. I was going to walk around in a fedora and a whip stealing treasure. I had no concept of what an actual archaeologist did. Me as a child, I never thought about what I was going to do when I grow up just things that I would be able to do. I would be able to go eat whatever I want. I would be able to go do whatever I want. I lived in a relatively strict household. I would be able to do things I needed to do or wanted to do and not have to ask and just do it! Now I know, in my rightful age of thirty, all the things I wanted to do, and did do when I got to college, I could have gone without.

What does “acting your age” mean to you?

  • RB: My dad died when I was 15 years old, I’m pretty sure this is the day I grew up. Even though I’m now pushing 30, I still feel like I’m that same 15 year old kid. Not exactly sure what “act my age” really means. I pay my bills, I’m really good at sticking to my budget, I have a career, but I find myself still clinging to the same forms of escapism like I did back then. I still listen to my favorite albums, read my favorite books, and go to concerts. Concerts always made things better, at least for a little while, and they still do. I just drink a lot less these days, the hangovers are way worse.
  • JL: Nowadays it’s a savings account for emergencies, a savings account for a car down payment in the future, contributing to a 401K, paying bills on time, shopping for cheaper rates on everything regularly. Insure all the things!Social security even sent me a statement last week estimating my retirement income.File it!

    Oh and babies are on the brain: vitamins, fiber, folic acid, natural fertility supplements on certain cycle days. My eggs won’t mature if I miss a dose! I’ll be thirty in December, I don’t have any time to waste! I even quit smoking cigarettes right after turning 28.  I only just quit smoking pot this summer. That was a huge one for my husband and me.

    Zika. Holy fuck I even had to cancel attending my husband’s brother’s wedding because it’s in Miami Beach in the affected zone!

  • JM: I was trying to describe myself to someone online and I kept thinking of “girl.” Am I “girl”? Am I “lady”? Am I “woman”? Am I a “female of a respectable age”? How do you describe 30? I always described myself as a “girl” but it just doesn’t feel right but also “woman” doesn’t either. I associate “woman” with my mom.It’s also hard to consider myself an adult when … I have a very personalized work space with Legos, concert tickets, Funko Pop figures, and other stuff. That and my nephew who I do not act like an adult around. It’s really hard to consider myself an adult. I mean, I pay my bills and I go do stuff and I take care of myself so I guess technically I’m adult but at the same time not a fucking chance.

How has your perception of adulthood and “acting your age” changed, say, from your early 20’s to now?

  • RB: When I was fresh out of college at the ripe age of 21, I thought my only goal was to find a job that could pay the bills. That is what an adult would do. A career and a life could come later but rent was due in a couple weeks and I only had enough money in the bank to last 2 months with no back up plan. With in one month, I managed to secure two jobs. I worked 7 days a week for 6 months without a single day off. I had never had so much money in the bank but I also learned money isn’t everything. Having a career you enjoy and solid relationships with other people are really important too. Plus, you really have to give yourself a break, mental health days are not a luxury, they are a necessity.
  • JL:  “We gotta get jobs, then we get the khaki’s, then we get the chicks.”- from the movie Basketball but loosely applied as a gal emerging from college and living alone for the first time in 2010.Later, my best friend and I had to modify it because it wasn’t working for us anymore: “Get better jobs. Quit the bar. Get the Men.”  This was developed early in August 2012. We got the jobs. Her job killed her, literally, a few months later. Then I got a better job. It took me some time but I did eventually quit the bar. Then I actually did meet a man.

My best friend and I never got to modify the goals to what comes next so I’ve been navigating that one internally. For me, it’s starting a family and getting those PE letters after my name on my business card. (Tell 1999 me that I would care about my name on my business card or let alone have business cards and I’d laugh at you!)

Lately though, I’ve realized adulting is just a series of small goals, one after another. Acting your age is setting the next goal in your life and actively taking the steps to accomplish it. And having the emotional intelligence to manage your mental and physical well-being in the meantime, whatever that goal is.  Whenever I run into the barflies from my past, I feel like I really do look down on the ones who still have no ambition.

  • JM: I’m always going to be waiting for adulthood. I know some people say they’re old souls so they feel more world weary. I don’t see myself as being that kind of person. I think younger me always envisioned growing up but somehow still living with my parents. I didn’t quite understand what growing up actually entailed. So I think I had a harsher transition than what was necessary so when I hit the adult curve it went a little bumpy. I never thought that this was what adulthood was.You think of adult as “hey, I’m married with four kids” or “I have my own house” or “I’m successful.” Back then it didn’t occur to you the financial hardships and difficulties. So when that happened I found myself struggling and was like “what do I do? I don’t understand.” My parents would tell me to do x, y, and z when I was younger. But why? They would just say “that’s just what you do.” But why? I was always one that I need to know more, I need to understand the function behind what I’m doing to the point where I didn’t ask questions a lot of the times.

Do you even feel like an adult?

  • RB: I finished an entire tube of Chapstick without losing it. Does this make me an adult, I feel like it should. In all seriousness though, if I had been asked this question a year ago, I would probably say no, I do not feel like an adult. But today, I realize that whatever innocence I had retained is gone. I feel old, adulthood is filled with hard decisions and each one comes with heart breaking consequences. Not to mention the body aches and pains. But it makes you really appreciate the moments when you actually feel happy and just a little carefree. I got to see Blink 182 two days before [dealing with some shit] and some really tough decisions, but for those two hours while watching them, I honestly felt like I was gonna be ok. I’m really grateful for that. And Blink was absolutely amazing, it was such a fantastic show but they have seriously aged.
  • JL: I’m studying for the final step exam to become a professional engineer (PE) and taking a review class.  The first session was reviewing “basic math.”  I turned off the class recording and went to youtube to listen to the chorus to “I’m a Fake” by The Used. I screamed along with it and took a few emo moments to compose myself.   I have a degree, a husband, a mortgage, a high paying job but couldn’t remember which side of the Unit Circle was the zero on the x-axis. The state is going to let me build things if I pass this exam; I’ll be responsible for peoples’ safety.I’m a fake.But I taught myself the Unit Circle all over again. I even downloaded all kinds of cheat sheets for all the trigonometry I had forgotten for the next problem. So I guess in a way I do feel like an adult. I had a problem and I solved it and I prepared myself for the next one.
  • JM: It depends on the day of the week. It really, honestly, does. What day of the week, what time, and maybe what phase the moon is in. I feel like and adult when I’m paying bills. When I’m transferring money for rent and utilities on the first of the month, that’s when I feel most like an adult.

No One Should Take Themselves So Seriously

What about me? The concert made me think of how far I’ve come but how little I feel I’ve changed. I’ve been thinking a lot about my age and what it means to be or act any age. Time marches on and each day brings a new gray hair but at least I have people on the same journey with me that I can turn to and ask, “what the hell is happening?”

What’s Next

You can look forward to a few more blogs dealing with the topic of age because it’s on my mind!