Phrases I never thought I'd say as a 20-something
Last week, as I left work and crossed a busy intersection toward my car, a forest green hot rod sped through a yellow light, nearly clipping the curb. His engine roared behind him, leaving his mark for blocks in my suburban neighborhood.
“That idiot needs a muffler!” I exclaimed to no one, only to hear a grunted assent from the woman behind me.
And in that moment, I realized I was Millie from Freaks and Geeks. There comes a day in every twenty something’s life when he or she sees they’re growing up, noticing the ways we all slowly become our parents. For me, that moment brought the ultimate embarrassment: admitting that my mother was right about something.
Upon much reflection and soul-searching, I have found a number of other ways my parents’ values have leeched into my adult life. Here are some phrases that as a teenager I swore I’d never say. But as a 20-something? I totally have.
“I’m hungover after three drinks”
Back in my day (college), I could go out on a weeknight, have a drink or two and be tired for class the next day – but not hungover. Yet, here I am, sitting at my work desk on a Friday morning after a late dinner and drinks with a headache, nausea and an unspeakable craving for macaroni and cheese.
I’m reminded of the story my mother always tells of having too many margaritas at a Chili’s once: “Those things just slip down!”
“Everyone squeeze in for a picture”
Chalk it up to the nostalgia inherent in graduating from college and moving away from home, but I have become picture-obsessed in my 20s. Not too long ago I was the too-cool child rolling her eyes at her mother’s thumb over the camera lens; yet, here I am, forcing my significant other into selfies with me “so you remember what I look like!”
“Well, what if something happens?”
I’ve found that in my 20s, I have become a giant annoying worrywart, newly afraid of everything, from train derailments to secretly being poisoned. Furthermore, my worry extends to all immediate family members, friends, small children and animals, strangers. Beware! When did the world become such a scary place? Maybe it’s because that as a grown-up, you’re more responsible for fixing things—so you’re more aware of the potential for them to get out of whack.
My earliest memories in the car with my mother involve cars honking and speeding past her speed limit-abiding car on I-95. While I have not yet achieved that level of nonchalance with regard to driving, I’m slowly getting there. (Get it?) At some point, we all must come to a place where we realize the world is full of really bad drivers. So what’s the use in becoming one yourself? Every time someone gets mad at my reticence to make a left across traffic without an arrow and speeds around me, I take it as a sign that I’m doing something right.
“Can’t we just stay home tonight?”
This is probably the biggest – I’m just tired. All the time. The stress of college, exams and trying to fit work in was one thing, but working a 9-to-5 is a whole different beast. By the time Friday night arrives, my most cherished experience is no longer the night out with my girlfriends, but rather the time spent horizontal on my couch.
While exhaustion is usually my primary interest, I think your values also change with age. I hold onto the small moments, conversations with friends and simplicity more than the wild stories, so it seems natural that my preferred ways to blow off steam would change.
While I will never admit it, I am growing to appreciate my parents more for all things I always thought were lame. Life gets complicated as we grow older, and maybe some of the values we once held don’t seem as important anymore. But that’s OK.
Writer and cat lady Katie Smith is a recent graduate from Philadelphia, Pa., and future resident of Austin, Texas. She loves Mexican food and sun dresses (so long as the two never meet). She writes about Latin America, language and culture, while trying to be outlandishly funny. She likes people that are nice to each other. Find her work here or on her blog.
[Image courtesy HBO]