Skip to main content

Do We Ever Really Grow Up?




I've been unpacking the last of the boxes that were in storage in Florida and today I came across one that was filled with pictures taken ten years ago. The pictures actually made me laugh as I looked at myself posed in front of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, looking so earnest and trying so hard to appear fashionable because I’d recently lost fifty pounds and thought the new skinny me in my new wardrobe would be my key to happiness. And it was in some respects, I had a great time. Yet it was still the same old me inside, with all of the same old insecurities.

As I looked at those pictures, I wondered: do we ever grow up? Do we ever really change over the years?

I guess the reason this is on my mind is because I just turned 49, which is one of those momentous numbers. It means that for the next 364 days, I will be obsessing about turning 50, which seems so much older than my forties ever did.

When I was younger I always looked to the future and thought of the things I would accomplish and how different I would be at some future date. Like when I ‘grew up’. As I looked at those pictures of me, then considered the row of journals that sit on my bookshelf spanning the course of twenty five years of my life, and as I unpacked that beautiful white lingerie that I bought fifteen years ago to wear on the wedding night that never happened (It's a stunning white silk gown and robe with sleeves trimmed with white boa feathers.) I realized that really, despite all the milestones that come with age, we don’t actually change the core of who we are. Like, when I run into college friends on Facebook, no matter how I think I’ve changed, to them I'm still the goofy girl I was back in university.

When I lived in New York and worked on Wall Street, I imagined the pinnacle of my life would be when I turned 45 and I pictured myself riding to the office each morning in the back of a limousine, wearing a full-length mink. Today, that would be my idea of Hell. Well, maybe I’d still take the full-length fur in all of its inappropriate glory, but I’d wear it with with a pair of jeans and the beautiful black cowboy boots I bought in the men’s department of our local thrift store.

I never became that woman I thought I wanted to be. Instead, I did something completely different. While I have finally realized many of the things I hoped for and still fallen short on others that remain elusive, what I find the most disconcerting is that inside, I am still the uncertain young girl I thought I'd eventually outgrow. I always thought that with time and accomplishing my goals, all those fears and insecurities would somehow melt away and with age I would become more confident. But I haven’t evolved into something different than I was back then. I’m still Suzanne, with all my over blown self-doubt, my fear that no one likes me, that I’ll always fall short no matter how hard I try, that I am neither talented nor feminine enough to be the popular girl. And I wonder what's the point of the journey if we can never escape that person we wanted to change: no matter how much we accomplish or how far we travel from where we first began?

And then….

Just when I think I’ve found a great truth, and decided that the best course is to simply aim a little lower, I instead discover something that turns my conclusion on its head.

Recently my mother has begun to cook, something she never exhibited the patience or interest in for the first eighty-three years of her life. Then this past weekend she picked up my old battered copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and decided she was going to try a few recipes. And she, who has been willingly displaced from her home like Naomi from the Biblical book of Ruth, who chugs along on a heart that operates at fifty percent of its capacity, has created a new life for herself here and found a grace and contentment that she never had before. What she seems to know instinctively (she's always been a woman of action, rather than the self-absorbed navel gazing that I excel in) is how to make the most of where you are geographically and spiritually. And as a result, her life is much richer.


While I toss and turn at night, wracked with insomnia over my worries about the friends who won't come to dinner, the snow that didn't fall in Evergreen, the book that I will rewrite again though it’s already ten years in the making, she has found peace in who she is now. While I still doubt that I will ever grow up or become the person I thought I'd be, I hope that I will eventually know her  contentment with who I've always been.




Comments

Keetha said…
This rings so true. What a well-written essay. I think everyone can relate to it. And what a credit to your mother!
Anonymous said…
Cracking post, Suzanne. but....did you forget the list of all the things you didn't do (or know) or had the skills for when you were 22, that you did know/do/had the skills for at 45? Hah! we always forget that list. Tell us what it features and give yourself a load of credit! Big Hugs, xxxx M
Jennifer said…
I know these feelings so well, and I'm trying for that same kind of acceptance and peace. Any day now...

Popular posts from this blog

Open to the Spirit - Book Review

Open to the Sprit is like reading a letter from a friend. McKnight writes a very accessible introduction to the Holy Spirit and its role in our spiritual life. McKnight uses several stories from his life and others to share how the Holy Spirit consoles and deepens our daily spiritual walk. A terrific book for those seeking an introduction to a relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Collard Greens with White Beans - A Vegetarian Take on a Classic

Could a vegetarian version of collard greens ever compete with the traditional goodness of collard greens cooked with a smoked ham hock?

I was skeptical until I made this recipe. It is every bit as delicious. Taking the place of the ham hock is the rind of parmesan or other hard cheese. I keep a small plastic bag of cheese rinds in the freezer, they are the perfect flavor enhancer of stocks and soups, and now collard greens.

Similar recipes call for dried beans, but sine I live 10,400 feet above sea level, dried beans are always a challenge unless I'm using a pressure cooker. For this recipe, I opted for canned beans and am just as happy as can be.

This recipe is quick, easy, delicious, and so rich and satisfying a bowlful with a slice of garlicky olive oil toasted bread makes the perfect week night dinner. It is also a satisfying side dish.

Let's get cooking!

Ingredients:
1 bunch of collard greens, touch center stems removes, leaves torn into large pieces
1 14 oz can of Nort…

Dinner with Julia

What do Ina Garten and Martha Stewart have in common? Both women describe cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking when they were young as foundation to learning to cook.
Julia Child is an inspiration to most home cooks of a certain age. I found her so inspiring that at one time, I had all of her cookbooks, including a first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and had read almost every biography written about her, My Life in France, being my favorite. And yet! I confess that until this week, my cooking adventures in Mastering were limited to her omelet recipe, her iconic recipes for onion soup and Beef Bourguignon.
When the Food52 Cookbook Club on Facebook chose Mastering as its cookbook for the month, I jumped at the chance to finally use Julia’s first cookbook for its intended purpose.
I decided to start with something easy, a poached egg. I purchased the best organic eggs I could afford, read the recipe several times, and began. After I’d tur…