You remember seventh grade, don’t you? Of course you do. Though, if you’re like me, you’d probably rather forget.
I don’t know about you, but in seventh grade I was Awkward, with a capital A, or I suppose a capital R, because that would be even more awkwaRd.
In essence, I was 12-year-old walking disaster, with a failure of a perm on top. My clothes, tearfully tragic. My makeup, caked on like only a foundation rookie could do. My school work, hopelessly forgotten as I was focusing all my efforts on trying to be cool. I was a mess in every category of my seventh grade life. And I felt it, deeply.
I attribute this awkwardness to two major factors: 1.) Being thrown into a new way of life by way of graduating sixth grade, and 2.) the keen awareness I was looked down upon for being young.
Suddenly I found myself in this junior high world where school work mattered, and boys mattered, where I was expected to look older, and act older, even though I still felt like a little kid who needed her mommy. And everyone hated me because I was a lowly seventh grader (probably not, but that’s what my insecure psyche felt).
But some time in the summer between seventh and eighth grade I morphed into an entirely different preteen. I realized I’d never look good with those bouffant bangs, so I grew them out long and straight. I knew who my friends were, and who to stay away from. Something clicked with my school work and I started getting straight A’s with minimal effort.
In eighth grade I was put together, confident, in command, and I had great hair.
Flash forward ten years, and I found myself in similarly awkward straights – my twenties.
By reason of graduating college, I was catapulted into a strange new world once again. One where skirts and heels were expected, and pressed clothing mattered. One where I was expected to answer the phone the right way, and craft emails the right way, to look older, and act older, and yes, I still felt like a little kid needing her mommy.
And talk about being looked down upon for being young in my twenties. I had a 40-something boss once consult me about a potential new hire. She was concerned that this candidate was “too young, he’s only 26.” I tried not to blink too much. She must have ignored my age on my application, because I was “only 26” too.
At another job, when I was 27 years old and a mom no less, my bosses collectively referred to me and another 18-year-old employee as “the kids.” In a time when I was fighting to grow my career and earn respect, this label was a major bummer.
I remember flipping through a gossip magazine, reading the latest starlet’s response to how she felt about turning thirty. She said she was excited, because it meant she would finally be a grown-up.
It was then that I realized, our twenties are the seventh grade of life. And just like the summer between seventh grade and eighth grade marked a transition in me from basket-case geek to put together chic, so turning 30 meant going from fledgeling 20-something woman-child, to bona fide collected adult.
I’m so glad I’m finally here.
Lindy, now 33, blogs as a real adult at Minting Nickels, where she attempts to figure out every grown-up’s favorite subject: money.
(Photo by katybate)