Sunday, June 29, 2008

City Face

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to grow up. To mature. It means something different to every person. With friends and boyfriends I've had, some difficulties were caused by a difference in our maturation. So people define it in different ways and actualize it at different rates too.

Two friends told me last weekend that the 20s are fun, but awkward, and the 30s are fun and free. They said in your 30s, you finally have a sense of how to be. That sounds nice. I'm not 30 yet, mind you, but I have it in sight. And turning into some zen-like version of myself sounds alright by me. I could use a little zen. They also said that you really know yourself and you accept yourself the way that you are, realizing that there are some things that will never change because they're just a part of you.

One thing I've heard other people say is that growing up is about caring less what people think about you. That sounds nice and zen-like too, I think. I love my aunt so much. She's always been a second mom to me. And we're a lot alike so it's good to have someone in the family that you can relate to in special ways. But she cares too much what people think. She has a near impossible time making decisions for herself or forming her own opinions without being swayed by others. I really don't want to be like that. I know I care too much sometimes, more often than not probably. But I hope that I always have a firm grip on myself.

When I first moved to New York, I had a hilarious time adjusting. People kept talking to me. Strangers. Saying crazy things. One woman yelled at me while crossing the street. She pointed right at me and yelled, "Fuck you!!" Another woman on the subway told me not to touch her. I wasn't. The funniest was when a homeless man told me that my arms were man-like and that I didn't look like a woman. In the first two instances, I was shocked and disturbed and speechless. But to the homeless man, I retorted, "You're meeean!!"

Finally, someone explained that I didn't have a good "city face." I was looking people in the eye when my eyes should be glazed over, with a slight scowl on my face. I perfected that eventually, and the crazies found some other innocent to taunt. We have to find a way to make it through the world with ourselves still solidly intact.

So that's part of growing up, I think. Though, going back to my friends' wisdom about the glorious 30s, part of it is also recognizing your weaknesses. I do recognize that I care too much what other people think of me. Because I'm aware of that struggle I have, I am able to challenge and push myself, I think. And also to forgive myself when I succumb.

I also think that another part is truly knowing other people. And taking care of them. I'm learning more and more how to do that too. It's important to know who you are, forgive yourself for your weaknesses and challenge yourself to improve. But it's also important to know the people you love inside and out, to forgive them for their weaknesses and find ways to challenge them as well.

I've got my city face down pat. I learned how to adjust my face, my demeanor and the vibes I send off that best work with the situations a city puts me in. But I also need to learn the right face, way of walking and talking, for those that I love. It's part of taking care of them and treating them in the best way possible for them. And it's all a part of growing up.


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