Happy Not to Be Nineteen…



I turned 40 last summer. It’s been hard accepting that. It’s been hard acknowledging that. Sometimes I “forget” I’m 40 and try to pretend I’m still 39. This often involves pretending my husband is younger too. And some of my friends.

One thing I don’t ever pretend, however, is that I’m 19. If there’s one thing I never want to be again, it’s 19. That year when you’re both an older teen and new adult all at once. That time in life where you’re convinced you’re all grown up but your parents are still paying for all of life’s essentials because you’re in college.

While there were many awesome things that happened to me and for me at 19, I definitely never want to go back.

Here’s a list of things about being 19 that I DON’T miss at all:

1. Not being able to drink legally.

Also known as trying to look and act 21 so that you can buy wine coolers, because, yeah, all real adults drink wine coolers. Honestly, once you fully embrace the responsibilities of full and proper adulthood, you need the real stuff. Wine coolers just won’t do.

2. Worrying non-stop about what to do on Friday and Saturday night because staying in would be worse than death.

Yeah. I don’t miss that. If anything, now I worry about how to make up enough excuses to be able to stay in on Friday and Saturday nights because going out into the crowded masses seems, well, worse than death.

3. Wondering endlessly if that guy is “into you.”

Yeah, by 40, if not 30, you’ve definitely stopped caring that much about whether or not someone is “into you.” Either they are or they aren’t. The “wait three days to call” rule no longer applies either. Thank the Lord, because it was a serious mind and energy suck to actually care so much about so many random people whose names, quite honestly, I couldn’t even tell you now.

4. Making out, having sex, or “experimenting” just to see what it’s like.

Hallelujah, by the age of 40 I definitely know what almost everything “is like.” I don’t need to experiment anymore. (You know what I mean!) I also know that porno movies are basically all make believe. At 19, that was still up in the air.

5. Mixing and matching outfits forever to try to find the “right one.”

I remember tearing through my closet, digging through my drawers and even borrowing things from roommates, friends, and neighbors to try to make an impression with the ultimate, most perfect outfit ever – and on a daily basis! Now, at 40, I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore. At worst I try on one or two things before going out for a special event but, generally speaking, by now I know what works and what doesn’t. Getting dressed, albeit less fabulously, has become second nature.

6. Wondering who I’d marry, and when, and if!

At 19 it seemed really important to know the answers to those questions.. Questions that you just can’t even begin to know at 19. As Oprah says, nobody should get married until they are at least 25. Your whole identity can change in your early twenties. Now I’m married and I know that while it’s part of life, it wasn’t worth all that fretting and worrying and wondering. As they always say, it’ll happen when it happens.

7. Reading Cosmopolitan magazine and taking it seriously.. at all.

Yes, at 19 those quizzes seem to offer loads of insight into who you really are, whether you know it or not. Test Your Sex IQ, Are You Good In Bed?, Are You In Love Or Forcing It? and Should You Cut Your Hair Short? These are honestly the quizzes in the current issues of Cosmo. When I was 19 I thought they were for real. Hip, hip, hooray, now I know they’re just for play!

8. Working a part time job, and, ugh, working for minimum wage.

At 19 I worked a bunch of jobs. I worked concession at the movie theater. I took phone orders at Pizza Hut. I took an AV job at my university’s media center. All of these jobs paid minimum wage, a.k.a. the lowest amount allowed by law. They were awful, tedious, boring jobs but they were all I qualified for at 19. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore. With age and wisdom comes experience.. and a higher salary.

9. Returning “home” for the holidays.

When you’re 19 you tend not to live at “home” anymore but when the holidays and summer breaks roll around, you inevitably have to return “home.” You have to sleep in the same bed you slept in when you were twelve years old. Suddenly it feels like you have a curfew again and you have to ask to borrow your parents car to go out. Oh, the horror. Now, finally, at 40, I never have to go “home” again.” I can visit my folks, but they’ve moved on and so have I.

10. Wasting gobs of money on every different kind of makeup imaginable.

At 19 you still don’t know you’re own style yet so you spend loads of money buying all different kinds of makeup. You need a bunch of dark stuff for when you’re feeling goth or depressed or dark. You need lots of pinks and glitter and sparkly hair accessories for when you’re feeling girlie and youthful. Then you need the serious looking mauves and reds and mascara for when you have an interview for a real job or a presentation to give or anything remotely serious to attend. By 40 you’ve pretty much narrowed down your lipstick to two or three prime colors and the rest is tried and true too. Maybe it’s Lancome now instead of Wet N Wild, but it’s definitely simplified.

11. Trying to decide what to be when I grow up.

Yes, at 19 you’re starting down a path that might lead to a career, or not. You’re trying to “major” in something that you love, or that might make you money one day, or that you can at least tolerate for this semester. Now, at my age, I basically know what and who I am. There’s still options out there, and I know I can change directions if I want to, but the total lifelong job oblivion stuff has been eliminated.

12. Worrying that I’m fat.

Well, yes, okay, I don’t think this one ever really completely goes away but, honestly, seriously, have you looked at pictures of yourself at 19? Were you fat? Most likely, no, you weren’t. You were probably close to the skinniest you’ve ever been or probably ever will be. And yet, at 19, I sure did spend a lot of time obsessing over my weight and thinking I was too fat. Counting calories. Starving myself. You name it, I tried it, at least for a while.  If I could go back and tell my 19 year old self any one thing, it’d be this: “Hey, you’re really, really hot right now. Go forth and prosper.” At this point, I don’t wonder if I’m fat. I know that I’m fat. Especially compared to 19.

So, yeah, I guess maybe there’s one two two things about being 19 that I miss… but let me go stare at my bank account, kiss my kids goodnight and drink another glass of wine. It’s good to be all grown up.






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