Quite Frankly

Dear Frankie,
Since I’ve started attending Vassar, I feel like I have made good strides towards becoming a somebody. I’m happy with my progress. Yet recently, after having pulled myself in this maturer direction, I feel a countervailing push away from being a young spring chicken who still has, and enjoys, a life. When did I become so hunched over, serious and irritable? How can I grow up and stay young?
Sincerely, Tragic Geriatric

Dear Geriatric,
Quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ve experienced being a young person—my hip pops every time I take a step with too long a stride and on top of that, my favorite hobby is knitting and I deece at 5:00 p.m. almost every day. That said, I understand the appeal of youth and of holding onto the person you’ve been up until now.

I suppose to more thoroughly answer your question, I would need the particulars of what you see as the hallmarks of youth versus the downsides of aging, but I gather from your phrasing that “being a somebody” entails a measure of emotional maturity and responsibility heretofore unexperienced. These qualities hardly make you geriatric or restrict the amount of fun you can have. I understand that having fun usually doesn’t mean putting “fun” on your calendar, but I promise that non-spontaneous fun can be just as youthful—and making time for your fun will help you limit the irritability portion of your experienced geriatricity.

Certain habits of your younger self might not be able to stick around as you grow older and wiser, but you can always hold onto the spirit behind them. Maybe you can’t climb on the roof of a building and imbibe illicit substances anymore, but you can still go for a hike. That’s almost the same, right? And your commitments might not be as floutable, but you can learn to embrace the exhilaration of meeting a deadline, of a plan coming together, of finally nailing a recipe. And maybe sometimes, you actually can still climb to the rooftops—my brother is almost definitely adultier than you, and he still does.

So, how can you grow up and stay young? By recognizing the healthy balance between “I do what I want, when I want” and “I only ever do work and anyone in the way of my productivity must be made to suffer.”

Best wishes, Frankie

P.S. Probably take everything I just said with a grain of salt. My idea of fun, spontaneous, youthful behavior is watching a full season of “The West Wing” in a single sitting while eating a bunch of gluten free pretzels. What do I know?

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