Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Quarter Life Crisis

Okay, so there's really not a quarter life crisis.

But I've been joking about it all month - I couldn't resist putting it in here too.

Maybe it's just a family joke: If you know me well, sooner or later, I'll tell you that I'm going to live to be a hundred. I sound like I'm joking, but I'm really joking the way that Karou jokes with her art school classmates in
Daughter of Smoke & Bone. As in, the tone is right, but the words are true.

I seriously am shooting for a hundred. A century sounds awesome. I'll be like Beverly Cleary (95), sharp as a tack - no, sharp as a freaking samurai sword, and lording over her legacy with deft skill of master-craftswoman. *daydreams*

What?! It could happen! Three of my great-grandmothers lived well into their nineties.

If you look up centenarian on Wikipedia, this is the picture that comes up.

I'm seriously not kidding about that. Her name was Muriel Duckworth. She was Canadian. I hope, on my 100th birthday in 2086, I remember to wear a color that brings out my eyes.

WOW, what a tangent.

I turned twenty-five this week. Hence, the Quarter Life Crisis joke.

(Sadly, jokes are never as funny if you have to explain them, which I have done above. Le sigh.)

But okay, I am still halfway to thirty. - Well, as my friend's fiance pointed out, it's technically halfway to fifty. But I'm not going to think about that.

If I wasn't happy about things, I could have had a mid-twenties crisis. I could whine about how I'm not doing anything with my life. How I'm not where I want to be. How I really want to be doing X, Y, and Z. I could be miserable.

But as you'll notice, I'm not.

I'm actually really grateful. Instead of feeling anxious on my twenty-fifth birthday, I felt all giggly. I'm talking little girl giddiness. Like Christmas Day, how-fast-can-I-open-these-presents joy.

You know what Sandra Cisneros says in her short story, "Eleven," about birthdays?

What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you don't feel eleven at all. You feel like you're still ten. And you are—underneath the year that makes you eleven.
I've talked about being a writer since I was five.

Five-year-old Shelby and twenty-year-old Shelby, thirteen, and twelve, and eleven year old Shelby, and all of the other Shelbys underneath -- they're all rather pleased with twenty-five-year old Shelby. Proud of me even.

Because all of them know that by the time I reach twenty-six, I will be able to hold my book in my hand. And turn the pages. And give it to people. And put it on a shelf in my house and see my own name facing out at me - every single day.

(Wow, apparently I'm kinda proud of twenty-five-year-old Shelby too. :-P)

Anyway, I spend a fair amount of time in panic, freak-out mode. Like - OMG, revision deadline! OMG, synopsis time! OMG, copyedits!!! Copyedits in the three days!!!! There's stress in this business, most of it self-inflicted.

But despite how I feel sometimes, I'm exactly where I wanted to be. This is what I've dreamed about for pretty much as long as I could remember. If I could go back in time and meet my younger self, the five-year-old Shelby would think I was cool. How many people can say that?

According to five-year-old Shelby, I'm a success. And that's actually not such a bad measure of success.

I think I'll keep it around for the day I turn thirty.

Of course, I thought a lot of things were cool circa age 5. I present exhibit A:

This may actually be four year old Shelby.
But it's clear from this pic that I've always been a lady of taste.
Tigger, for instance, TOTALLY goes with this outfit.

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