Sunday, January 11, 2009

33 Going on 13

One of my brothers was complaining to me the other day that his co-workers were making fun of him for bringing his lunch to work. Now, it's a firmly well-established fact that my brother works with a bunch of petty idiots, but I found this particular incident rather perplexing. How could grown adults possibly consider this something to make fun of?

I thought about it for a while, and it struck me that the last time I ran into this kind of attitude was when I was in junior high. Back then, it was "uncool" to bring your lunch to school. Only losers did that. I remember because we were pretty poor growing up. I couldn't afford hot lunch, so I was definitely one of those uncool losers. But I also remember leaving that attitude behind a long time ago. In fact, pretty much everywhere I've ever worked as an adult, bringing one's lunch to work was the norm.

This line of thought brought me to something my husband is frequently saying. I belong to an on-line forum where there is a fair amount of drama and stupidity. Whenever I complain about this to my husband, he says, "Well, everybody is 13 online." Which, when you think about it, is an apt description of many online encounters.

So this has got me to thinking. I wonder if, on the inside, we're all still 13 years old? Of course, some of us are better at controlling it than others, and some are better at hiding it than others. But what if our inner 13-year-old lurks there all the time, just waiting to burst forth when our guard is down?

I definitely see mine in me. She's been around a lot lately.

I don't like my 13-year-old self all that much. She's not who I want to be. I remember other selves that I like better. There was my 20-year-old self, who traipsed off to another country and finally learned how to make real friends. She was pretty cool. And there was my 23-year-old self, who moved to Portland with little more than a job and two suitcases, who managed to build a nice life for herself. She was a lot braver than she realized at the time. Then there was my 29-year-old self, who learned to stand on her own again. She had a couple of pretty good years, despite a few hardships.

I know all those selfs I admire are still in there too. So I wonder why the 13-year-old still resonates so loudly, these 20 years later?

1 comment:

Patricia said...

I think it's because most of us were at our worst at 13. Bodies were doing weird things, social things were weird, family relationships were weird and non of us were nice people then. Or we often lapsed into not-nice behavior. So whenever we are not nice today it is much like we were when we were 13. It would be interesting to look at other cultures and see, say if a person lives in a culture where you have to become an actual adult around that age, your "bad actions" are attributed not be being 13, but something else. This comment has rambled.

Also, for the record, people at previous jobs have given me a bad time about bringing lunch. I think it is because they know they should be bringing their lunches, but they can't get it together enough to do so.