Forget 16 and Pregnant – What About 21 and Pregnant??

For the first ten years of my life, my answer to the ever-so-popular question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was always “a mermaid.”  I wasn’t joking, I did want to be a mermaid.  Living in the sea, long flowing locks, a singing lobster for a BFF….

Another ten years have passed, and my growing appreciation for my two, separate, functioning legs has put my PhD in mermaid out of the question.  College graduation is approaching and I am still questioning what I want to be “when I grow up.”  I knew all along my answer would change (along with my major…twice), but only recently has it hit me that the question itself would change too. 

It’s not only a question of “what I want to be when I grow up,” but the bigger question: WHEN am I grown up?!  I know what it feels like to be happy, sad, angry, etc, but what does it feel like to be grown up?  Will I just wake up one morning and feel different?  Will I think to myself, oh, maybe I shouldn’t be wearing purple sparkly nail polish because I am a “grown-up?”

The spark of my revelation you ask? 16 and Pregnant.  Forget NuvaRing, this reality show is my form of birth control.  A new season is about to air (tonight!) and I can finally devote my Tuesdays to scaring myself out of becoming one of those girls.  Great logic, or so I thought… until I realized it would be impossible; I can’t become one of them, I can never be in their situation because I am not 16.  I am no longer at risk to face the perils of teenage pregnancy because of the obvious: I am not a teenager.  However, the idea of randomly becoming pregnant is just as scary to me now as it was when I was 16.  I do not feel any more ready to give birth now than I did when I had braces.  I would still have a heart attack and possibly go in to cardiac arrest thinking about having to tell my parents of the news.

So when is the switch made? At what age will my mind-set change and I will consider the idea of pregnancy feasible, or even desirable? Or, at the very least, not something that gives me nightmares about trying to fit a crib into my teeny, tiny NYC apartment?

As someone who feels the need to have all of the answers, it is difficult to leave these questions unresolved, but the truth is that they are impossible to answer.  Feeling grown up is not part of a math equation and there is no magic light switch to make it happen.  Being grown up is having the ability to look back and realize how much you have changed. (Editor’s Note: And when you wake up at 11:30 on a Saturday and think about how much of the day has been wasted…)

In reality, I will probably not realize I am grown up until I am reading this article to my grandchildren explaining how I once posted it on a “website” on this thing we used to call the “internet” in the olden days. That is, if I ever grow up enough to have children.

In the end, as I analyze the situation I am starting to believe that at age 8, I was wise beyond my years.  Maybe being a mermaid would have been the perfect solution; life would be much easier if my legs were sewn together.

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