Monday, October 22, 2007

Quarter Life

Almost four years ago I was sitting on a shuttle going through the Munich airport, having a conversation with John Mayer. We talked about a few different things, but the topic I remember most was age. He'd asked how old I was, I said I was 21, and he said, "Hm. I'm 26. But I feel like I'm still 21, just with a few years more experience. Nothing much has changed except the number. I look at my dad, who's 76, and inside, he's just a twenty-something who now lives in an older man's body. Seems like it's probably that way for most people."

Once in awhile I think about that idea, usually around my birthday. There definitely came a point, around mid-college, that my leaps and bounds of growing up and discovering who I was slowed down and I more or less became who I am now. That's not to say I've reached the pinnacle of my personal lifelong growth process, as I'm a true believer in continuing to learn and grow as long as one is alive. But my personality, knowledge of strengths and weaknesses, and methods of behavior and decision-making became more fixed than impressionable. Many friends recall a similar point in their lives. I certainly hope to be a more mature, patient, loving, and educated version of myself in 10, 20, and 50 years. But, in reference to what John said, who "Corinne" is is mostly a done deal. Age from now on is really just a number.

I will admit that it was somewhat surreal and thrilling to sit and have a mellow chat with John Mayer. We were about to fly to L.A. from Germany, and I was traveling with a bunch of students just finishing a 3 1/2 month tour of Europe, during which John's second album came out and had been my soundtrack to our explorations of so many countries. We spotted him in the airport and all stood around talking to him, getting CDs signed, with no one else clamoring for his attention. As we went through security, I was held back for having fingernail clippers, and fell behind my whole group and John and his band. I was bummed, and boarded the next shuttle to our terminal, and somehow he walked on after I did and sat down right next to me. I'd been a huge fan since his coffee shop gig days. Still am. It was crazy I tell you.

So I turn 25; reaching the middle of my twenties, the quarter life mark. The "mid-twenties" have been the most joyful times yet. This is partly due to that fact that somehow I was born with the innate belief that each year is supposed to be better than the last. That conviction has led to some confusion and disappointment in the couple times that it didn't necessarily prove true, which I'm guessing will happen again, but mostly, it will serve me well as life goes on. Believing this is what pushes me through when things are difficult, as I refuse to accept that life is anything less than an upward process of increasing maturity, achievement, and gratefulness.
I've been thinking a lot about the direction I want to go in a few different areas of my life lately. John described this time well in his song "Why Georgia"...

"Might be a quarter life crisis
or just a stirring in my soul
either way, I wonder sometimes about the outcome
of a still verdictless life.
Am I living it right?"

My wonderings are really more a quarter life "stirring" than a crisis.

Finally, for fun, here is some visual documentation of my quarter life birthday celebrationing...

Fire and wine with friends.

Zac and I off to dinner and the pub.


Anna Quinlan said...

Maybe my first blog comment ever (A special belated birthday gft to you)! I loved hearing this story face-to-face (my preferred method of friendship) last night, and am impressed by your gifted writing abilities in transcribing the event as well. I am continually impressed by your thoughtful and effective introspection, and feel that these qualities make you a priceless friend. Heart.

*corinne said...

oh anna, i heart you too.

Megan Stichter said...

kind of love this post- i may have to send it over to john ;)

Lesley Miller said...

LOVED spending time with you this weekend...talked through Myers Briggs on the way home with Jonathan and loved thinking through some of what we discussed about life, confusion, quarter life crisis, etc. I actually didn't even see this post until today... funny that we were both posting about similar types of things recently. I didn't realize that you talked to John on the shuttle. I was too star struck to say anything but I love that we all met him. It makes me feel way cooler than I actually am. Anyway, just wanted to say that you encourage me and that I love your way of explaining and loving life. Me

Lesley Miller said...

p.s. how do I start tracking blogs? I forgot the website! :(

Tara said...

I didn't know you met John Mayer!

Looks like you had a fun birthday.

Want to know something funny? Tomorrow afternoon I start my (very part time) teaching job. This semester the kids are learning... hand bells. Isn't life funny? Made me think back to our old days.

Oh, and thanks for the comment on the birth novel post. I'm impressed you made it through the whole thing!

Allison said...

Corinne! So fun to come across your blog. Happy quarter life! Coffee sounds great - would late next week (W,Th,F) work for you anytime? Call or facebook :)