I don't know how to wait until I'm older

I've never really been able to listen when people tell me to wait until I'm older.

Ever since I was a kid, I have always been in the position of being young for whatever it was I was doing. I wrote my first "novel" when I was 12. (The book was about 20,000 words and entitled The Disappearing Posessions. I didn't realize until after I finished it that I had misspelled possessions, which made me want to die of shame. I also didn't know about Find & Replace so I set about changing EVERY INSTANCE OF IT IN THE WHOLE BOOK, but anyway I'm not bitter.)

I started college studies when I was 16. You can do that in Minnesota, start college/university in your last two years of high school for free. Let me tell you, I did not fully appreciate how incredible that was, but my future loan-paying self sure did. The first semester was a bit rough, as I had to research topics and turn in papers at a whole new academic level. I've never admitted this to anyone before, but I most definitely turned in a paper about the Colosseum in Rome that had citations from the young adult books section of the library. Oh yes, I did.

And I got a B. Moving on.

I was the youngest person in my MFA class at 23. I vividly remember a guest author coming in to speak to us about ageism in publishing, since she got her start as an author in her fifties. I went up to speak to her afterward and excitedly told her about my novel. When I told her I was 23, she said, "Oh, you're far too young to write a novel. You should work on smaller pieces instead." I didn't listen. Thumbs up for ageism!

At 26, I got married. That's not very young compared to my friends in the US, but compared to those I know in the UK and Australia, I'm practically a baby. People are constantly surprised here in Australia when I refer to Peter as my husband. These days, getting married in your thirties is more the norm, but not for me. At 26, I had likely lived less than a third of my life, but I knew what I wanted and went for it.

That attitude is probably what has led me to do so many things while I was still young -- that unwillingness to let other people tell me what I can and can't do, or what's normal or acceptable for my age. Who cares about normal? Why should I think about what's acceptable?

Can I do it? If yes, if even probably, then I'm going to go for it.

That being said, things seem to have balanced out a little. I'm still the youngest person in a lot of things: my writing group, most meetings at my office, etc. But overall, my age is starting to catch up with my accomplishments.

And that's when I start getting the itch.

What can I do now that would be an achievement for a 28-year-old?

  • Publish a book.

  • Do a PhD.

  • Become a professor.

Those are just a few of the goals, a few things I would love to do while I'm still young. I wouldn't recommend telling me that I'm too young for any of it, though. It didn't work when I was a kid, and it won't work now. I don't know how to wait until I'm older.