The Age of Cool

Age & the cool factor.

Strange thing, isn't it?

When I was 5, I thought I was pretty cool.
I remember being proud of myself for making a friend on the first day of kindergarten (her name was Jessica and she had blonde curls and pearls)

When I was 10, I thought I was getting so big--TWO digits to my age! As the oldest in my family, I owned "first" for many of the milestones of those early ages & stages. As strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and preferences took over--my place on "first" was shifted. But I was still the FIRST to be 10!

When I was 12, boys were on my mind and dancing (age 14) and dating (16) seemed incredibly far in the future. I made lists upon lists...things I wanted to do and milestones to reach. I actually created a document (poster board & marker) that required mine & my parents signature--documenting such things as when I could wear mascara or lipstick.

When I was 16, I thought I was pretty cool. Kind of. Around my family I thought I was cool, around my peers I had a string of insecurities (just like everyone else, but I didn't know that then). Dating was an option--but really, it wasn't (lack of options that fit the "date only members of the Church" mold). I did love the youth conferences, EFY's, & dances! And--driving. Even in a big blue van, I felt pretty cool about that.

When I was 18, I thought all of my problems would be solved by flying away from the nest. Not that I had very many or very dramatic problems, but when you're 18...everything is dramatic right? I had enjoyed my Senior year of high school through involvement in plays, clubs, seminary, & serving in YWs. I felt more than leap on to new adventures! Being older and wiser seemed closer than ever!

When I was 21, I was happily living a fairly independent student life and had learned quite a bit about what I had thought was cool and what really WAS cool. I dreamed of being in the perfect relationship, perfect major, and the perfect job. What I had was no real relationship, a stack of chosen majors, and a couple of jobs that paid the bills.

When I was 22, I thought I knew how things would go. I was solid on my choice of anthropology with a minor in Spanish, I was prepping for a semester abroad, and I was dating one of my best friends. And then! Everything I thought was swirled into a new reality--I was mission bound--and even with many fears, I had confirmation that THIS was how things really should go.

When I was 24, I had a busy year. I returned from Portugal trying to figure out who I was...again...this time a new kind of "cool" (can I even use that word for a newly returned RM?)--my base was more solid than ever before and I knew the divinity within me was stronger than cool.  I rekindled (was it ever unkindled?) my relationship with Mr. H, I went back to Provo, we had a long distance engagement, got married, lost jobs, applied for jobs, and made new plans for our already freshly made life together. I felt insecure as a new wife but solid in my newfound strengths. I felt very loved and very grateful for the beginning of my 'happily ever after'.

When I was 28, everything I thought I was changed on one summer evening. I thought recovering from a rare blood disease, experiencing a miscarriage, and other life trials had brought me close to divinity (and they had)--but nothing had prepared me for the way this would change, mold, and enrich my life. I became a mother.

When I turned 30, I thought I would somehow feel more confident, secure, and wise. I felt a little strange since as a kid, I don't remember ever imagining myself past 30 (is that normal?) I did feel more secure in myself--less apologies and more 'this is who I am'. Less comparing of "coolness" and more defining my own, based on my daily adventures as a mother of little ones, a wife, a daughter, and a seeker of truth.

Now I only have 3 more months until 33. I don't know what "cool" is anymore (just ask the teenagers who babysit my kids) but I'm feeling my own kind of distinct me-ness, more than ever before. I'm more aware of my own faults but I'm also more aware of my own strengths. I have opportunities to serve and give that I have not had (or recognized) before. I try to find time with my friends, time to create, and time to increase my spiritual core. I learn daily from my mistakes and I try to forgive myself more, and give my children the opportunity to take pride in their own "coolness" --as they are definitely three of my favorite people who are helping me define who I am and who I want to be.

If you were to ask me how old I feel...
I would probably say somewhere between 24 and 28.

If you were to ask J how old he thinks I am ...
he would say "Mama is old...she's 10" (because that is what he said yesterday).

I think the coolest part about growing up, is being able to smile when you think of all of the times you felt "cool" and finally realizing that there was no "cool"--only you--changing, growing, learning, falling, flying, forgiving, and finding ways to accept yourself for who you really are.

Also, one of the describing words in N's current 
(and ever-growing) vocabulary?

Ex: How was that ride on Daddy's back? "Cool."

Every day in November!  NaBloPoMo: National Blog Posting Month. Write a post on your blog every day in November. Since last year didn't kill me, I've decided to do it again this year. Do you want to join me? My brother will be writing daily overHERE and my sis-in-law's posts will be found HERE. 


Autumn said...

I can relate to a lot of what you said. I feel more raw now than I ever have- knowing my strengths and weaknesses, but also realizing I am more me than I have ever been before.

Kendra said...

Good post. And don't worry - you'll always be cool to me (said the uncool friend). ;) But really, I couldn't agree more - I think you have really come into who you are as a person and I think it's lovely and beautiful. I love your confidence and the happiness you exude. Love you

JosephJ said...

You are very self-aware, Shara! Good work on that! I can identify with your desire to be cool/do cool things, but I realized I would never really make it to mainstream cool. So I had to make my own. (Whether or not people agree with me on that point remains to be seen!)

I think you're there. You've got the stuff COOLNESS was made of.

Sharalea said...

Autumn, I love reading your blog and watching your discovery of YOU over the last several years--just inspiring. I think you've gotten there aLOT faster than I have!

Kendra, thank you for the kind comment--I've always thought you were way cooler than me! :) Thank you for your love :)

Joe--your comment made me smile big. I think you are one of the coolest people I know--your determination & can-do style makes you the definition of cool! Thank you for your affirmations, it really made my day. Love you, bro!

Miles said...

anthropology, huh?! I didn't know that! i'm reading a book right now "The Seven Daughters of Eve" by Bryan Sykes. Check it out; it is FASCINATING!

and, like.. when are you going to write a book? go ahead and get published, would ya?! your writing is amazing to the max.

Linda said...

At least Jackson also thought your mom is 10 TOO! not even 11. So I guess maybe 10 is old to him, at 4. And we all must be 10.

you have always been cool, Shara.