I am now 28 years old, and the fact that I am unquestionably in my late twenties shocks me whenever I think about it. I’ve told people that I always assume all my friends are just the same age as me no matter how old I am, and that’s sort of how it is in Nashville but it’s weird for me to realize that almost all my friends here in Charlotte are younger than me, some of them by 5 or 6 years.
I’ve written about how when I was in Los Angeles two summers ago I felt like I was coming to the end of my growth into my real self, the long process that starts in middle school and finally results in being the kind of person you’re supposed to be, the kind of person you’re generally going to be the rest of your life. But, while it took me until about age 26 to feel like I was nearing maturity as a person, I don’t think I really finished until sometime last year. Not because of some big event like my L.A. trip, it just seems like last year was when I finally became totally comfortable in my own skin and realized who I am.
It’s been kind of an interesting test to meet a lot of new people in Charlotte in the past few months. Through some twists of fate I seem to have developed an ever-growing circle of new friends who are quite a bit like my friends in Nashville. Very creative, smart, honest people who I’ve found that I can communicate with pretty easily. But the thing that’s been the most interesting to me is to kind of watch myself interact with them as I spend more time in this group. While I think in previous years I would have tried to mold myself to fit them so that they’d accept me, I’ve been a little surprised at how I’ve been myself with them and haven’t tried to change myself since I’ve met them. It seems like that’s a sign of maturity, that I’ve finally fully realized who I am and who I’m not, and people will or won’t like me, but at least I’m honest with myself.
There is still a little awkwardness sometimes, the kind that comes with being the brand-new person in a group of people that have been friends for a while, but while in the past that kind of awkwardness would have just crippled me, now I can kind of laugh at myself for being awkward because I know it’s not a judgement about my personality and how well I fit in with these people. As I start my 28th year it’s a nice feeling to know who I am. I think I like me all right.