By Mary Hollis Stuck
Although I grew up rooted in the heart of the South, I was raised in a fairly liberal household. My parents voted for Obama. Twice. That’s a big deal in Columbia, S.C. Still, the confines of Southern tradition still have their claws in me. I was in the second pew at church every Sunday for as long as I could remember. My parents had followed “the plan,” and so would I: do well in high school, go to college, probably grad school, get an awesome job, get married, have babies. In school, I made straight A’s. Well, mostly A’s, and a few B’s. Ok, I made some C’s in high school. Whatever. I was a good kid. I did chores, didn’t kill my siblings, and had activities that kept me busy and proved that I was responsible. Mommy and Daddy’s pride and joy.
Then I became an adult, and things shifted. Having not actually graduated from college, because at 26 I still don’t know what I want to be “when I grow up,” I became an optician. When friends ask me what I do, I get to tell them “I basically just get a lot of cool sunglasses.” I have a 401k, vacation time, my own apartment, and a truck that, according to my parents, costs way too much. I go to the gym five days a week, but sometimes my dinner consists of a bottle of wine and Whole Foods peanut butter, which is eaten directly from the carton. Weekends usually consist of drinking a little more than my parents would feel is appropriate, but if we are being honest here, I feel that I am basically successful. All things considered.
When I began settling into my life and my current job, I started to try to get comfortable with my personal life. Luckily, I work a 9–5, hardly ever having to stay past 5:30 or go to the office on a Saturday. During the week, I admit I am a bit of an old maid. It’s borderline pathetic, but I’ve come to terms with it. I end up spending my nights enjoying “Big Bang Theory” in my sweats. But by Wednesday I am totally ready for the weekend. By Thursday, the texts and calls begin. Texts such as “Hey, are we getting white girl wasted this weekend?” and “USC plays at 3:00. Woohoo, day drinking!” And, considering I get out at noon on Fridays, my weekend begins even earlier than some. It’s not hard to get excited.
Then comes the occasional call from my aunt, who loves me like she would love her own child, if she had any. “I’m taking your grandmother to dinner on Saturday, would you like to join us?” At some point, there is a conversation with my father, who likes to warn me what can happen to my bank account on a weekend filled with partying, bar hopping, and home football games. And, of course, calls from my mother, who is against drinking in general, include reminders to “make good choices!” (That’s her favorite saying. Since I was about 5.) To top it all off, I come home to see my gym bag sitting on a chair, reminding me that I have still not met my weight loss goal for 2013. Ugh.
Sometimes, I seriously get the feeling that there is just too damned much pressure. Like I will never get any freedom. It’s coming from all directions. It is enough to make even the most stable, well-rounded person scream. As a twenty-something chick who enjoys sing-alongs to Journey at the bar and watching “Friends” reruns in my PJs, it’s basically the most frustrating thing in the world. Just when I think I am free for the weekend, away from the confines of my “day job,” numerous other stresses pile back on top of me. And oddly enough, most of them have the same last name as me. For a while, I started to form the mindset that if Mom and Dad weren’t footing my bills, why bother doing anything but exactly what I want to do? I’m 26 years old after all. I’m an adult! I wanted to slam my foot down and scream it to the world. But wait, that sounds familiar. It sounds like a temper tantrum. That’s actually not very adult.
Look, as twenty-somethings, we all have that moment when we feel like we never get to do what we want to do, and everyone is tugging us in different directions. Mom wants me to go visit her in North Carolina. Dad wants me to have a tight budget and be at church on Sundays. My friends give me crap if I am not at the bar on a Friday night. And my body complains if I’m not at the gym on Saturday morning. The thing is, there can be a balance between all of those things. For me, I’ve learned to compromise, and it doesn’t end badly at all! Dad and I started doing dinner on a weeknight. About, once a week, I show up at his house to grill something delicious and drink his beer. Added bonus? If we are eating at home, he doesn’t give me crap about my budget while he’s signing the check for a dinner he’s footing the bill for. Seeing my mom is a bit more difficult, but hey, did I ask her to move to North Carolina? No. Still, going to visit her every eight weeks means I get to spend time with both her and my brother, generally eating at great restaurants and getting a little shopping done, too. Not bad, right?
At this point in our lives, it’s time we start making choices. Unfortunately, the two-for-one special at your local bar may not win out every time. Sometimes, you have to show up for Easter church service with a raging hangover and pretend to sing along to the hymns next to your 85-year-old grandmother. Deal with it. We’re grown-ups now, remember? It comes with the territory.
Photo courtesy of abbieredmon.com
Mary Hollis lives in Columbia, SC. After going to school for English, and determining that doing so was basically useless, she works as an optician, and is mildly obsessed with sunglasses. She spends her time obsessing over Gamecock football, re-reading the Harry Potter books, trying to explain to people that it is unacceptable to just call her “Mary,” and blowing up Instagram with pictures of her dogs, who are cuter than anyone else’s dogs. Follow her at @stuckinsc for proof.[divider] [/divider]
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