As of this weekend, I am the newest girl at a sports bar right in the heart of my neighborhood – and so completes #13 on my list. I’ll be moonlighting as a waitress for 1-2 shifts a week, mostly on weekends, and am really looking forward to it. I put “getting a waitressing or bartending gig” on my list because I miss the energy of the industry, the people you can only meet working at a bar (in the best way), the laughs (and shots) you share with co-workers and customers, the pure adrenaline rush that carries you through a long or busy shift, the way it feels like the world stands still when the lights come on and the bar empties out at 3 AM…until you head to after hours, and of course the extra cash will be a welcome bonus!
The process of getting a bar gig at this stage in my life has made me think quite a bit about expectations vs. reality and what it actually means to grow up. If you had asked me 10 years ago what I thought my life might look like at 29, this would not have been it. Not even close. Then again, I’m sure my 19-year-old-self would have had countless other facts-of-life and altruisms to share that also wouldn’t hold true today, most of which I’m thrilled I was wrong about.
In the past 10 years, I’ve learned to recognize and at least somewhat embrace what I call the in-between – a perpetually (parenthetic) existence characterized by line-toeing, teeter-tottering, almosts, and not-quites. For a while I used to (half) jokingly say, “Maybe this year they will take me seriously.” They, the world, will finally take notice. Thinking that at 23…no 24…well maybe 25…or surely 26, I will have earned a rightful place in adulthood. (Right?) Then by 27 I realized I wanted no part of conventional adulthood, changed my mind somewhere around 27 1/2 and started day-dreaming about weddings and white-picket-fences, and at 28, after another failed attempt at trying to be what an adult is supposed to be, I decided I would write my own definition of what it means to grow up. So that’s where I’m at heading into 29, but where it leaves me, yet again, is the in-between:
- Not quite an “adult” and not fully wanting to be anyway
- Making a living salary but still living paycheck-to-paycheck
- Feeling more fiercely independent than I ever have, but fiercely wanting someone to share it with
- Torn between planting roots and spreading wings
- Finally having the wherewithal to live the life I want, but no longer sure of what I want for my life
So maybe I have more in common with 19-year-old-me than I thought. At 19, I remember feeling conflicted, confused, uncertain, and unsure…but excited. So unapologetically excited. That raw excitement was the only sure thing about my life. And now at almost 29 I feel it again, but in a more substantial way, maybe because I understand and accept this restlessness as part of who I am or part of what defines my generation.
The real reason I included “getting a waitressing or bartending gig” on my list is that I knew it would make me feel alive and remind me what it means to be human – adult or not. There is just something about working a double-shift and being on your feet so long you can feel your heartbeat in your shoes, going out of your way to make someone’s day whether they tip you for it or not, having conversations and sharing moments you swear you’ll remember forever (and sometimes you do) with otherwise complete strangers, seeing the best and worst of humanity all in 1 shift, staying awake until the streetlights and the sunrise blur, and being out on your own in the world but never feeling alone in it.
So if you’re looking for me in this next year of my life, you can find me where the moonlight meets the in-between. And I actually feel really good about that…ish.