I believe that at twenty-three, I am once again smack in the middle of puberty. Quarter-life puberty. I am singing the second verse to a song I tried desperately to get out of my head the first time around. And an entire choir of my peers is singing with me.
Since the onset of my own quarter-life puberty, I have graduated early from college (not overly anxious to join the real world, but overly anxious to conquer the next challenge); I have taken my first job (which filled my heart with satisfaction but left my wallet embarrassingly empty); I have lived solo in my first apartment (a stark contrast to the chaos of college communal living); I have ended my four-year relationship with a guy who used to be “the one,” (turns out what I wanted in “the one” grew up as I did); and I have packed all of my belongings to move across the country (on more of a whim than a carefully considered life plan).
These life changes are not unique to me, but the last time my entire generation of peers experienced this much change, we had health ed teachers armed with workbooks, videos, and stern looks for those of us who giggled every time they said “intercourse.” What is the lesson plan for teaching us how to be twenty-somethings?
Turning thirty pumps up the volume on the tick of our biological clocks. Turning forty puts us over the rhetorical hill. Turning fifty earns us an AARP card and a ticket for a colonoscopy. We know about these milestones and we are well-prepared to pass them with an appropriate amount of trepidation. But someone has forgotten to warn us about turning twenty.
We celebrate the third decade of life for all of its positives. The alcohol we have been secretly drinking can now be legally consumed. We are one step closer to renting a car without a surcharge and one step further from puberty. Or so we thought.
Quarter-life puberty isn’t all that different from the puberty of middle school. Take relationships, for example. In both, “awkward” is the theme. He walks you to the door; you each mumble something about having “such a great time,” and heartfelt promises to call. Then he leans in for a kiss… “or is he leaning in for a hug!? We’ll bump faces if I don’t pick a side! Unless we’re supposed to bump faces…” And he ends up kissing your left earlobe. This is the dreamy story of my first kiss. And ironically, also the story of my last kiss – three months ago. Puberty is still awkward the second time around.
After surviving the trauma of training bras and first kisses, I thought I was finished with puberty. Turns out, puberty happens twice. But I believe that a good sense of adventure, a good sense of perspective, and a good sense of humor will help this one be more enjoyable than the last.
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