Great(est) Expectations

“Our unhappiness is best defined as the difference between our talents and our expectations.” -Edward de Bono

I’m adopted. This is something most people don’t expect to hear from me. I don’t share my adoption story often; mostly, because I hate explaining the entire account (it’s beyond confusing and most people can’t wrap their head around the details) and I look so much like my adoptive mother that people don’t believe me anyway. The whole process was an in-family affair- I was adopted by my would-be aunt and uncle (hence the resemblance) when my biological mother couldn’t take of me. I’m not sure of all the gritty details of my adoption story but of the things I do know, I use the knowledge to push my life in a certain direction. It’s that certain expectation I have for myself I use to keep my actions in check. Sometimes, I imagine what my life would be like if I wasn’t adopted. I think about the worse things possible happening; me dropping out of high school, getting knocked up at a young age, getting seriously involved with hard drugs, actually going forth with committing suicide. Sure, my life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows but I am thankful for the both the things that I’ve learned on my own and the things that my folks have taught me. I look at the other adults in my life (like some family members) with the turmoil they have been through and I’m grateful to be dorky Andrea.

It’s those expectations, though, that keep me awake some nights. Last week, I wrote about not growing up. Unfortunately, I will have to do so at some point. The world expects me to work until I’m 65, pop out babies in my early 30s and pay my taxes on time. I look at the adults in my life and see that they’re following suite. These are smart individuals- how did they fall into this haphazard pattern? This falling-into has been happening for decades. Everyone is secretly handed this life rule book (which apparently, I never received) and if you don’t play the game, you’re screwed. Society’s expectations force the twenty-something to find love (and get hitched), obtain the lifelong career and create the so-called American dream. Screw that. Why are we pushed into this cattycorner of expectations most of us will never live up to? And why should we live up to them? Granted that society usually knows what’s best for us, in terms of wealth and financial stability- but should we care about making the benjamins? Whatever happened to making our own paths?

While drinking Jack-and-Gingers (this is probably the only stereotypical thing about me- I only chug ‘girly’ drinks) with a girlfriend last weekend, we chatted about how we felt average and how we could change that awful feeling. We both got average grades in school, took average jobs afterward, live average lives. I defended my heart with replying that I never wanted to live an average life but as I walked home that night, I thought about the way I was living and how it didn’t live up to the expectations I always gave myself. And not just my current self, either. I thought about the 15-year-old version of me, the 23 version, even my eight-year-old self. They three would look at the life I’m living now, hunt my current self down and kick my ass ‘til I was face down in a bloody gutter somewhere in Queens. So why am I not kicking my ass now? I have the expectations that my life can be better than this. Why did I fall into this hole? Am I that stereotypical? This friend of mine I went drinking with knows my heart well; she knows that when I have a little extra cash, I splurge on friends rather than myself. I rather see and make others happy rather than myself (which gets me into A LOT of trouble). I try desperately to put other people’s feelings first before thinking how that action will affect my own. I expect others to act selfish (as I have witnessed a lot in my life) so I expect myself to act oppositely. What is wrong with that? Why should we only have average expectations for ourselves? We have this one life to live- so why not demand the best for ourselves?

I don’t want to end up like certain family members (sorry, Mom. I still love you!) or like some of my friends. I need to start believing that I can create this dreamscape life I have for myself and push through with it, living up my great expectations. I may not believe in the stereotypical American dream but the potential I see in myself is strong and courageous. I just need to start zeroing in on those core values while kicking down all of those white picket fences standing in my way.

Off to Never-Neverland

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” -Satchel Paige

Upon turning twenty-five a week ago, it hit me that I still have a lot of growing up to do. I know that I live securely on my own without any help; that I attempt to pay my own bills and  built a life of my own separate from my parents but I still don’t feel ‘grown up.’ I was watching television with my roommate earlier last week and we started talking about our mothers and how they had us (as well as our siblings) when they were twenty-five. To me, twenty-five years seems a little young to be popping out babies. Yes, I have friends with children and I love them dearly (I’m beyond excited to be an aunt in September) but the idea of me becoming a mother is something I cannot fathom. (My vagina does not like that idea, either.)

An old acquaintance posted on his Facebook wall a question about where we wanted to be in our lives in the next ten years. I know exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing: my grown-up fantasy includes me living in a charming studio in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, successfully writing for a living with a scrappy little mutt named Clover sitting on my lap. I look at where am I at now in my life: dead-end job, living in a place that I can’t stand, have practically no close friends. I want my life to perform a complete 180 kick-flip. I need to get serious about life if I want those things to come true. I need to be determined. But am I doing so? Do we need to be this serious about life? Who says that we have to? People say that life is too short to take seriously. Is that true? Can we just simply hope for things to fall into place? What about all of those goals I wish to someday accomplish? Does that take a certain maturity in order to complete them all?

I like to think that I have the best case of Peter Pan complex imaginable. I really do think of myself as a fifteen year old most of the time. When I was fifteen, I used to sit outside of my dad’s house on the curb and read library books while the neighborhood kids played kick ball or sat in my parents’ garage to play my dad’s old pinball machine. I still do that; I like sitting on my porch on cloudy days with a trashy romance novel in my hands. When I was fifteen, I would race home from school to watch Emeril Lagasse on Food Network (BAM!). I still do that except I rather watch my girl-crush, Nadia G., whip up something delectable. I dyed my hair blue a few weeks ago. My fifteen year self is beaming at that little action- GO ME! I still cry and throw a fit when things don’t go my way as if I were my littlest sister’s age. I don’t have my driver’s license and I either walk or ride my bike everywhere. I sleep with my teddy bear at night (I still rather sleep with my arms around my teddy than my actual boyfriend- opps). All childish things. Or are they?

Maybe just growing up takes some time, just like everything else does. I was in such a rush during my actual youth to grow up and sadly, was so serious all the time. But now, I don’t want to be grim- I just want to have some fun. To quote one of my most recent favorite songs, ‘Tell momma I’m sorry/ This life is a party/ And I’m never growing up.’ I should stop stressing about this and grab some sidewalk chalk. It has been beautiful outside for the past couple of days and I want to play hopscotch.