Sometimes I forget I'm 24 years old.
I have never been your typical young adult. Most kids can't wait to escape the tight ship their parents ran at home once they're set free at college, but I cried my first night at University of Oregon when a gaggle of frat boys trounced through my dorm halls, announcing a keg party across the street and yelling "Beta! Beta! Beta!" like ogres in the hallway.
I called my sister crying, "I'm going to a party schooooooool!" I had been so excited to be at a place where the environment encouraged you to take academics seriously. I'd specifically requested the so-called "Intensive Academic" hall in my dorm, only to realize that the bulk of my neighbors were lamenting how they were "stuck" in the nerdy hall.
Thankfully, my rational sister Robyn calmed my fears and explained that every school was a "party" school in a way, even Harvard. It's just the nature of 18-20 somethings once they're away from home.
Well, I sure didn't get that memo. I rarely drank in college - I can probably count how many times I actually got drunk throughout my tenure there. It was never my thing.
Then there was the whole graduating a year early. While some congratulated me on the effort, many were quick to judge. I was talking to a guy at a party once, and when I told him about graduating in 3 years, he exclaimed, "Oh my GOD, do you have a life?" Why yes, asshole. I do. I don't regret one second of my college career. I was a jet setter - ready to see what the career world held for me.
Which brings me to present day. Because I work with an older crowd (my closest in age co-worker is 32), I sometimes feel like I'm held to a certain standard where I'm supposed to act older than I am. Don't get me wrong, I like being ahead of the game. I know it will all pay off in the long run.
I do admit, however, that a part of me feels like I completely skipped an entire part of my young adulthood. I went straight from serious college student to full-time employee - no in-between "finding myself" stage or time to just enjoy being young before reality and responsibility set in.
That's why I'm so happy when I can sneak in moments of youthfulness. Whether it be bringing my pop culture knowledge to work or geeking out about popular TV shows from the 90s ("Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek" - can I get a whuuut whuuut!) with my best friend, I think I appreciate those care-free moments now than maybe I would have 4 years ago.
For example, last Thursday I went to the Placer County Fair with my old elementary school girlfriends. They were all nay-saying the bumper cars when I suggested them, but once we got on, we had a blast! It brought me back to the days of the old fair that came to my small hometown in Nevada. This time around, though, I didn't slap anyone across the face like I did in 8th grade (sorry, Fritch!).
So here's to celebrating youth while I can. I know that beneath my "grandma" exterior, there will always be a happy-go-lucky kid :)