Today I’ve been pondering grown up routines, or the lack thereof, in my life.
I’m not a follow the rules/routines person. In fact, I often kick and fight against them with the ferocity of a toddler who doesn’t want to wear that top that was on high rotation last week, or eat another slice of watermelon, even though it was my most favourite thing at lunchtime. I tend to thrash about, arching my back, crying ‘No, no, no, NO!’ or ‘I do it myself!’
Sometimes though, I don’t do it myself, not if the state of my house, my finances, or dare I even type it, my fitness *cough*, are anything to go by.
Perhaps I just suck at being a grown up?
Yet, for all the kicking and screaming, I crave my own routines, I like sameness.
When I think about it, I have never liked imposed rules or authority. Ever.
Well, that’s not entirely true. There was that brief, or not so brief, decades long dance where I tried so, so, so hard to find all the rules of christianity (version whoknowswhatpoint.0) and live exactingly by them, which of course I failed miserably at.
Never mind that I couldn’t get it right, I somehow ended up as the rules police for anyone within cooee. The saddest thing about it all was that I was surrounded by numerous people who thought that the best, most loving, most follow the rules-y way to get someone else to live by the rules was to restrict, to monitor, to judge, to enforce ‘accountability’ – so I became one of those super helpful, but actually the antithesis of everything good you allegedly believe in types.
I’m mortified by some of the things I did, said and believed in those days. Mortified.
And worst of all, we were so wrong about so much of it.
My attempts to live right finally came crashing down around my ears, when one day at bible college (there’s so much I have yet to tell you) I realised, excuse my French, that fuck me sideways, I was in love with the RULES and not the Big Man Upstairs.
Utterly, terrifyingly thunderstruck.
I loved the (perceived) black and white, the definite, the do list and the don’t list, and the layers of self-righteousness I had slathered myself in over the years were revealed in that one moment, and it was, well… sickening. My world fell apart.
So, the whole follow the rules for Jesus thing hasn’t really been that successful. No gold star (or halo) for me.
Fast forward a good decade or so and I’m still pondering routines and rules, though they’re more broad societal expectations these days. What does it mean to be a 47 year old adult, without many commitments outside of myself? How should I live?
The thing is, I get that routine isn’t the enemy. It’s just a thing, a tool, a way of being in the world that helps people stay on top of all the stuff.
But I don’t have that much stuff to juggle.
No kids to ferry to 17 different extra-curricular activities a week, no community-based save the trees/lemurs/parks committees to attend, no date night to squeeze in around my busy career, meal planning, all the ferrying and worrying about keeping all the plates spinning.
So why can’t I get my shit together and get organised?
Or is that the wrong question?
Better still, what does that even mean? To have my shit together… I’m not sure I know. Do you?
Should I be a meal-planning, outfits laid out the night before, of course I have a savings plan, thrice weekly gym-going kind of girl?
Do I want to be that girl? Could I be? Is that inherently better?
I don’t know.
Maybe the single life has allowed me to skip over some of the ‘get your shit together’ stuff that being a grown up seems to require.
But being a grown up isn’t simply a matter of maturing, marrying and raising a family, is it?
It isn’t just about having a mortgage, or laying your younger self’s dreams aside to work in a ‘safe’ job until we retire.
Well, it is that to a lot of people, to varying degrees, but those things aren’t the core realities in my life.
Even though single person households are on the rise like never before, there is still a sense of being outside the mainstream as an older single person.
I am an unencumbered adult.
I guess the first thing most people think about being single (aside from maybe thinking it isn’t ideal) is that it means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. Sounds great doesn’t it?
Mostly, I do just that, whatever I want, without having to negotiate with anybody. I want to be at home, watching TV, painting, writing my blog, reading a book, and eating copious amounts of chocolate. So that’s what I do.
I go to work because I have to, not because I want to. I mean, some days it’s enjoyable, but mostly it’s about that hourly rate, paying the rent and then getting out of there. It’s not always like that, but it is the season I’m in.
And it definitely means I want to wear a bra as little as possible outside of those working hours. Done.
The solo grown up life means I can live a life free of a lot of routines. Is that the best choice though? The jury’s still out.
Single adult life means self-reliance, which is something I’m proud of, but which can also be scary.
It means standing alone, but needing a community.
Maybe it is just an inescapable part of human nature – we default to measuring our worth by external things, by comparisons, and quietly (or not so quietly) tut-tutting when others don’t walk the same path. We wear our badges: married, single, parent, careerist… and in some ways those badges help us navigate our way through. I think they also serve as roadblocks. We may see what we don’t have in common before we see what we do have. For instance, just because I’m not a mum and you are, doesn’t mean we couldn’t be great friends. I feel that roadblock every now and then, and it makes me sad.
It could be the same for you. I don’t know. I don’t think I’m the only one that sometimes feels these things.
Perhaps I can meal-plan or schedule my way out of these bigger questions…. or perhaps, in some cases, all that organising, scheduling, ferrying, and planning is a way of avoiding things too.
Can you have your life honed to a routine that runs like a Swiss watch, and still not have your shit together? Most likely.
In the same way, all my lack of routine could be something that holds me back. What from, I’m not entirely sure.
All this questioning. I need a nap.
It’s definitely something I do though, and mostly enjoy, even if the questions prick me a little as I ponder them.
Perhaps that should be my blog’s tagline? I Give You The Verbs: asking questions since forever.
But I think questions are a good place to start, don’t you?
It may not lead me to any immediate action, but it has lead me here, to writing, which is one of the ways I get my thoughts in order. Then they swirl around some more, like the un-attended dust bunnies under my non-routinely vacuumed couch.
What do you think?
Are you a routines person?
What works for you?
What does being a grown up mean? Are we there yet?
I’d love to know what you think about routines and labels, how you navigate the choppy waters of adult life.