We are aging like whiskey,
Slow and steady,
Ancient and sweet.
Right now we’re
Crude and sharp,
Biting and bitter.
We are nothing close
To what we should be.
We can please nobody’s palette,
we are worthy of no accolades.
After decades of loss and joy
And celebration and pain,
We will be ready
To see the light of day.
To be what we were intended
I’ve been jotting down quick poems over the past few months. To me, someone who doesn’t write poetry as a studied discipline, this means writing things I think sound nice and spacing them out enough to create a rhythm. Don’t judge me too harshly, I’m not trying to make a career of it.
My mid twenties, as a millennial, have felt like an odd milestone. As college graduation approaches in your early twenties, you feel like you’re entering into the real world, like you’re really becoming an adult. Then you dive in and the real world is all around you and friendships take work and rent is expensive and life gets hard in countless small ways. Suddenly, adulthood does not feel like something you’ve achieved, it feels like a label you’ve stolen. Every day that you survive is an achievement and every day you smile to yourself and wonder when people will realize you aren’t really qualified for where you are.
That’s how I felt at least, especially at my first couple jobs. I felt like I was making up answers when people came to me with questions (I was) and I felt like someday they would realize how clueless I really felt in challenging moments. That day never came, though. Nobody stormed into my office, pointed their finger, and shouted, “You have no idea what you’re doing!” Instead, time passed, I learned a lot, and I came to see how much I still have to learn.
So far, my twenties have felt like a process of realizing how little I know and how far I have to go in the best way possible.
This isn’t to say I haven’t learned things. I’ve learned in school, I’ve learned on the job, I’ve learned in other cultures, and I’ve learned in situations that would have terrified me just a few years ago (I’m looking at you, Public Speaking and Meeting New People). However, the older I get, the more I feel the weight of what I still have to learn.
When I was younger, and yes anyone older than 30 has my permission to laugh at how young I am using that phrase, I thought I knew how to love God. I thought I knew how to love people. You followed the rules and you made sure other people followed the rules and you loved them for how good they were and how good you all tried to be.
Well, that’s not how life works and that’s not what love should be. The older I get, the more I see that love is letting go of rules that don’t matter, loving people without conditions, and honestly recognizing when you yourself are way too frustrated, self-righteous, or uninformed to love others well.
The older I get, the more I feel that I’m aging like whiskey, infuriatingly slowly. I’m seeing my own rough edges, my own insufficiencies, my own insecurities, and I know it’s a long road for so many of these things to change. I’m settling in and setting my shoulders for the hard work ahead, for the strenuous effort of slowly but surely growing as a person. I don’t feel these things in a condemning way, I feel them in a way that is full of hope and grace.
So I’m working through grad school, thinking through career choices, learning to treat people with more kindness and gentleness, opening myself up more and more to the possibility that I am not always right.
This all, to me, is what “adulting” feels like. This is what my twenties have been so far to me- a time to see that I am on my way to becoming something much better than I am today.
PS- I know not all whiskey takes 10+ years to age. But I like the imagery. If ya wanna fight, I need ya to step off.