It is a weird thing to have grown up super nerdy and bookish and have somehow hit middle age and become the neighborhood “tool dad” that knows how to fix things and loans tools to folks and fixes the neighborhood kids’ bikes in the summer. Like, I used to think I’d like to be a teacher doing math or sciences or computers, but now I think the only teaching job I’d actually enjoy would be shop classes.
How did my bad movie-watching, RPG loving self end up as a guy who wants to wear a denim apron and dramatically wave an amputated finger at kids? I’m not even missing any fingers!
Gonna be 40 this year, and it feels pretty strange to be able to look back on my life and see very clearly what happened but still be a bit befuddled at how I ended up here as me, now.
Anybody else hitting milestones or kinda puzzled or surprised at how you actually are compared to what you expected when you were half your age?
I’m not sure what I expected, but it sure as hell wasn’t residing in a cubicle like some animal in a cage. I’ve been trying desperately to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but the answer has proven tom sadly, be even more elusive than Robert Denby.
I’ve 40 years old and I’m living with my parents. I spent twelve years going to college and grad school with the idea that I’d get a permanent job relatively quickly and be independent. I also thought I’d be married. It’s weird to be constantly on the verge of having no job and to be living with my parents and sleeping in the same bedroom I grew up in.
…but at the same time, I’m able to help my parents who are both in their 80s with things that allow them to stay in their home with minimal assistance. So… it’s a toss-up. I really want to be living where I can make my own decisions about my life and my schedule but I also am glad that I’m here.
A conundrum I never thought I’d have when I was young.
I’m still very much a kid at heart (I own Godzilla plushies and I have Captain America sheets on my bed!), but I realized I had become an adult when, when something went wrong, people started looking to ME to deal with it or fix it. I realized somehow I was driving the train instead of just being the passenger.
I have since refined this duality into “The Fun Friend Until The Police Get Called, Then I Am The Mom Friend” paradigm.
I like it. I may be getting older, but I am not getting old. Still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
Cool topic, it’s got me reflecting. I’m over 50, twice divorced, two kids (an adult who’s flown the coop and a teenager living with me), get along well with both exes. Couldn’t be more proud of both children. After decades slowly learning that it’s the little things that matter, I’ve concluded that life is composed entirely of little things, so I’m trying to appreciate them consistently.
I’m a kid at heart, too; perpetually about 20, somehow transported into this aging body. I suspect we all are here, and I think it speaks well of us. The world around us is frankly awful; it’s a testament to our collective spirit that we find pockets of joy – and MST has been one of those pockets for a very long time now.
Pick your version - It’s even more poignant in my old age.
I’ve spent a lot of the past year or so feeling this very, very hard. I didn’t have a plan or much of a vision of where I’d be by my mid-30s, but I feel like I’m not too far from where I was at 20 in a lot of ways, and all the development has been hard-earned and slow to come.
At least there’s therapy to help me process all this.
Well put. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. When I was younger, I always had this feeling that things were part of some overarching narrative. Nope, they’re all just little things. One of the many reasons why a work of fiction can be coherent but life almost never is. Just out here trying to ride the waves!
I was somewhere in my thirties and volunteering at the science museum here when it hit me one day telling some kids to knock off their bad behavior, and they backed off. I realised they saw me as THE ADULT who should be listened to.
I’m 50 now, and it still surprises me when kids respond to me as the grown-up in the room. (We never had kids ourselves. As dear husband puts it, there were already two children in the marriage already.)
I spent a lot of years, not just as a kid, but as an adult, dreaming of using my natural talent for doing voices as a career. I tried stand-up, tried making it as a voice-over actor, got semi-famous for some YouTube cartoons, but none of it ever panned out.
And now I’m 44 and I’m in a career which involves very little creativity and certainly nothing in that department, and I’m okay with it. I like just doing a job. It’s fine. Maybe I finally grew up.
MST3000 was shown at midnight for a reason, buster. You have seen what a youngster should not have seen and now your adult life is all messed up and junk. Fortunately, Jim Mallon is a therapist now.
If you have never read this book, it is such a great reminder to all of us about our lives. I discovered it at a book fair when my kiddo was young. I had to get it of course because it was by Weird Al, and I was not disappointed! Not only was it hilarious, but I’m still reminded of it every time I begin to even think that I have arrived in life and that this is all I’m going to be doing.
I’m about ready to retire, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
But then, it probably never did matter that much, cosmically speaking.
I’ve been dealing with this a lot over the past couple of years. I haven’t come to much of a conclusion beyond existential despair, but at least my useless Philosophy degree prepared me to deal with that.
I’d call this a win! I often wonder what it’s like for folks who find a passion early and stick with it their whole lives. My life’s been the opposite, but not for lack of passion; I just have so many interests. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been able to explore most of them, many professionally, and it’s been a great ride.
I think of this third act of life as a comfortable chair, and I’m trying to savor it as I settle in. (In my vision/analogy, it’s an outrageously plump and expensive leather recliner that occasionally makes fart noises.)
Usually every kid can’t wait to grow up, I know I was one of those kids. Now, I’m pushing 40 and hate being an adult. Im truly a kid at heart but having three teenagers and an eight year old you sometimes have to be the bad guy and “hated” for a brief moment.
I try to do my nerd thing (collect figures, hardcore punk albums, do crossword puzzles, sewing) but as a dad and the house wife my time for me is scarce. They won’t watch MST with me.
Being an adult is a more of a hate than love thing other than my kids that drive me nuts.
For me, a lot of the surprise has come at discovering how much I like just kinda being mellow. I used to doodle variations on a candle burning at both ends to get as a tattoo because I was constantly moving and doing and going…and then I kinda slowly started to really feel that bit about “it’s all small things” from up thread, and then the pandemic happened and all of a sudden it was like an object lesson in how true that was and how much wasted motion there was in everything else we were doing.
I work way less now, but because I’m not on the road all the time and we’re spending more time actually being at home and not just resting in between sprints we don’t spend near as much money on gas or eating out or having a neighbor kid mow the yard or oil changes or whatever. We actually do stuff for ourselves. If a thing breaks, we fix it. We take time and we sit and we talk and sometimes we put on some music and dance in the back yard because that’s what it’s for.
My wife found some guy on YouTube who lives in the UP here in Michigan who does modern homesteading stuff. The only one of his videos I watched was about converting an old 55 gallon drum into a compost bin and at the end of it he had a great line that’s really stuck with me:
“Stop paying other people to live your life for you.”
It’s been so weird walking around our neighborhood as everyone has gone back to work and seeing all the ghost porches. Think about how empty and strange it is that so many of us buy these really nice patio sets or we work on our porch or deck or whatever…and then hardly ever actually use the thing because we never have time, and when we get home we just want to zone out because we’re burned out from the work we did for someone else that was supposed to pay for us to be able to have the thing to enjoy the deck or whatever.
I like sitting on my porch and I like puttering around my house and I’m no longer willing to bust my hump to maybe get to do it when I retire when it turns out I can just start doing it now and a lot of the scurrying and hustle was encouraged and hyped by the system but was ultimately a self-inflicted burden.
It’s just…I dunno. It’s been a real trip having a global pandemic neatly overlap with my midlife crisis. I’m happier than I would have expected I could be given the circumstances.
You are a kindred spirit; I feel so happy to see someone else utter these words. The quote from the YouTube guy is fantastic. My significant other and I watched Nomadland several months back, and in it there was an anecdote about a man who’d bought himself a sailboat in anticipation of retirement, but he died just a few months before retiring, so the boat languished in his driveway.
This really stuck with me. My life had already been moving in this direction, but it strengthened my resolve that I will not let my sailboat sit in the driveway. Life is for living right now. I’ll never have great wealth (or a sailboat), and I’m okay with that. I’d much rather struggle to make ends meet and enjoy the hell out of time spent puttering around the house than make gobs of money and have no time to relax and enjoy the things it would buy.
That’s great advice.
I’m addicted to Workahol… Not so much for the money but just something to fill my life. Don’t get me wrong I still have passion for my job but at the same time I look forward to weekends maybe more than I should.
I was out of work for a few months in 2019 and I fell apart, I just need the structure of a job to keep me going and that fact makes me sad. Is this all there is in life? The daily grind??