I have been an adult since my first job at age sixteen; I was a student worker for the Los Angeles County Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee (CCJCC).
Go ahead a look it up, it’s real. I can wait.
For three years, every break from school, I drove to Downtown Los Angeles every day and worked with CCJCC on various projects. I put together a resource guide for former prisoners that included a list of companies that would hire ex-offenders, low-cost tattoo removal services, and AA/NA Meeting locations. I also designed their website (thank you MySpace for my coding knowledge at the time). Some days, there was a lot of action; other days, I used AIM and talked to my friends all day, and flirt with the cute guy in the copy room. It was cool for a first job, but it did force me to have a level of maturity that most my age did not. I delighted in the shock when, at a business lunch, colleagues would offer a glass of wine, and I’d politely refuse. When they would push, I explained that I was only sixteen/seventeen/eighteen years old, and they would always respond with, “Really?!” and a gaping open mouth. I could rub elbows with the best of them in a conference.
Socially, I was still a silly teenager. We gossiped about guys, talk about plans for formals, and decide if we wanted to go to the football game.
As I started college, I held another office job, this time working in a medical clinic as a receptionist. My friends would prank call me asking if we collected sperm at the clinic. I was promoted several times, and I became a clinic manager at age twenty-five. I bought a house that same year. I am not trying to brag, but I have been a badass for a long time.
Recently, some friends from college and I got together for a BBQ. Of the five of us, two are married, two are engaged, the fifth is a free spirit who does not believe in a piece of paper to define a relationship (her homeowner paperwork with her boyfriend are more solid than a marriage certificate). Three of the five of us are homeowners. One has two kids, and one is pregnant. One is working on her PhD. I later reflected on how much we have all changed in the last six to seven years. While sipping sangria and munching on homemade carnitas tacos, we discussed health concerns, budgets, and the benefit of having a retirement plan. It’s not as easy to get together like it used to be. Now, we start a group text and plan a date a month in advance. We used to talk about what happened at the bar over the weekend and our misadventures in dating. We used to go out to bars and stay until they closed. Now we get together at one of our homes. In a few short years, we’ve all evolved into these older/wiser/more mature versions of ourselves. It’s great.
For me, I love that my professional life and my social life are now in a similar place. Ten years ago, I talked about work, and my friends would giggle about how I handled urine samples. Anytime I talked about work, I was met with glossy eyes that I knew their minds were somewhere else. Now, I get text messages like,“I have this thing…. Should I go to the doctor?” or they ask about how my new clinic is setting up and we laugh about the interviews that I have been going through.
Life is good. Adulting is tedious, and sometimes a little boring, but I can say with certainty that I am the happiest I have been in my entire life.
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