How Going On A Date With A 21-Year-Old Made Me Realize I Still Need To Grow Up


I am officially a mid-millennial (Is that a term? If not, Im coining it). Yes, I recently turned the big 2-6. And I have to say I feel changes I didnt think Id feel.

Firstly, there are the emotional changes: You learn how to cope better with stress and the unexpected things life throws at you.

Secondly, there are the physical changes: your first gray hair, the beginnings of under-eye wrinkles. You long for a change in clothes and style (youre not a girl, not yet awoman), but you dont know where to begin, so you start with throwing out half your closet.

Finally, there are the biological changes: I kid you not when I say I now suffer from what I call Fleeting Baby Fever Syndrome. Ill see a baby and coo, then feel it all up in my insides and low-key picture a life full of bibs and babies.

Compare that to 22-year-old Sheena, who winced at the sight of a stroller. I even have a nephew now (look at this guy; hes such a cutie!):

Being an aunt is so gratifying, but it really gets you thinking about being a mom.

I carry all thesechanges with me into my dating life. Whenever I meet a guy Im semi-interested in, I think, Is he a forever kind of guy?

I met my most recent date at an electronic concert. I almost didnt go, but my girlfriend dragged me with her because she insisted I get back out there (Ive been on dating hiatusand am very choosy about who I go out with these days).

Sure enough, there, underneath a large disco ball and music loud enough to pop eardrums, I danced for hours with a tall, nerdy-hot guy. We exchanged numbers and planned a date.

Nights later, we found ourselves shooting the shit over cheap-ish Mexican food cheap, as in, somewhere between Chipotle and the top-shelf tequila place around the block from my apartment.

I cant figure out what I want to do in life, my date said, after having just told me hes in a band, but also in-between jobs.

Yeah, me neither.

I meant what I said, just in a different way than he meant what he said. I know what I want to do with my life. But I dont know what kind of guyId want to spend the rest of my life with. Still, we shared that aimlessness.

At that moment, Irealized I didnt even know his age. Wed met while head-banging next to each other in the dark, and age was the last thing on our minds.

How old are you, by the way? I asked.

Im 21. How old are you?

Shit.Id have guessed 25. There was something about the way he carried himself. He was unapologetic in his opinions and had this ~cool guy~, untucked-plaid-shirt-with-slacks style, one he pulled off well without looking like he tried hard to. 21?!

But the fact remained he was a baby, and I was officially a cradle robber.

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Hesitating, I told him my age and we laughed abouttheage difference. He didnt seem to mind.

We moved from Mexican and ontomy rooftop. There we were, kicking back in our classic Converse, drinking wine straight from the bottle. He asked me to salsa dance with him to no music. It was all very cute.

This 21-year-old felt like home. Not in a Id marry you! kind of way, but in a I feel you, dawg kind of way.

You know what else felt like home? (And no, Im not just saying that because I was on the rooftop of my home.) Being on a grungy rooftop, after having thrown caution to the windbybuyingreally fancy wine Id paid for by swiping my credit card without checking my bank account (oops) and drinking it without cups.

It wasnt only that, though. It was also how wedrank away our fears fearsshoved down so deep within us that they came out in tidbits the drunker we gotand crawledback into us as we heard ourselves talk about them about life and love.

They were fearswe just didnt feel like speaking of in any real capacity.

See, I tend to go for the guys who suffer from a general sense of lostness. Guys who are trying to run from something, whether thats feelings or actual people from their past who have hurt them. Guys who just dont have it together (and I mean that in the most endearing way). Those guys dont know how to be emotionally in tune, and I also struggle with that.

But Im 26 now four years from 30, and more than a quarter into my life and Im wondering how I fit into the dating scene.

Do I decide to address my feelings and date older? If so, how much older? Or do I continue to date people who also enjoy ignoring feelings and suffer from the same general confusion I suffer from aboutwhat they want and need?

Everything chanceswhen you turn 26. You enter freak-out phase and ask yourself if your romantic choices are lining up with that life plan youve had for yourself ever since you were a little girl:boss bitch by 30, mom by 32, kids by 35

I want all those things. But if theres anything my date with the baby boy taught me, its that Ive got quite a bit of growing up to do.

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