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Declare the pennies on your (crying) eyes

People have a lot of gripes about growing up, but something that you really have to experience for yourself is how routine your life becomes once you graduate college. If you have a job and a lease, then there isn’t really any drastic fluctuation, unless a huge life-altering event happens. This is contrasted by college, where a best friend getting a boyfriend could alter the course of your bar-hopping scene.

With adult life, this is not so much the case. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half, but even when I was single and employed, I quickly realized how little I was seeing my friends compared to college life. Even when I was an intern, I would see my friends almost every day in the city. 

But it’s just that. We were interns. Interns have programs and have their hands held. When you have a job, you need to figure shit out. Not everyone, unfortunately, that you hold dear is going to stay near. People will live in different boroughs, different states, different parts of the country. Or, even if they live a town over, their lives could be on a completely different schedule than yours.

Another part of this increasingly sense of established routine is that my crying outbursts have, well, been not as eventful. Or if I do cry, it’s about something legitimate, which, for writing purposes, is boring if it isn’t a tragic event. Crying about trying to work out a new lease? An understandable thing to be stressed about, but who wants to read about signing forms and going to the bank for a cashier’s check? It’s just not as fun as a dog eating my muffing during class.

But, saying that, despite the “adultness” surrounding my life, the flame of innocent hysteria has never gone out (ask my boyfriend or my family). I still have my eccentric thought process and racing mind. I still intake stimulus very fully and react just as equally fully. And, sometimes, like last night, I revert to an emotionally younger sense of self.

This year was the first year that I at least participated in my taxes. My dad always did them, but I marked “doing your taxes” as the final stage to becoming an adult (hence the hesitation, I didn’t want to give up my youthful sensibility). But, now that I am living a more adult experience (still am on my parent’s health care, though), I figured, “Hey, now is the time to do it, right?”

Dad walked me through the process, which was surprisingly not too overwhelming. We used Turbo Tax and the step-by-step program was easy to navigate. I plugged in the info and after about a half hour, we were done! There! I did it! I was now officially an adult (kinda)!

I forgot about it for a week and then last night, in bed, my eyes flew open and there I was, my mind going a million miles an hour 

I had committed tax fraud.

I had committed tax fraud.

I must’ve forgotten some detail. I was sure if it. I couldn’t think of anything, but I probably did something wrong.  

There was no way around it. I was going to get audited. Kyle’s best friend did audits and he probably would think that it was fraud too. I was living a lie. My parents would have to deal with the horrors of me behind bars. I had failed them.

I immediately called my brother.

Who was younger than me and had never done taxes.

“Claire… the IRS isn’t going to care if your forgot a small thing. You did your taxes with Dad. You’re okay, you need to sleep.”

It didn’t matter that it was my brother. At this point, people who know me well enough have adapted to my Mom’s Narrative. This is the line of sayings one needs to iterate to me when I am having a patented Claire Moment. Grant took on the role of Mom in that moment.

“You’re fine.”

“Claire. You’re fine,” is what people sequentially said to me the next day when they woke up to my frantic texts.

When the anxiety dust settled, I had to laugh at myself. In a strange way, I was relieved. I thought that now that I was an adult, my worrying was now all legitimate and I had no safety net. But asking your brother about your taxes that your dad helped you to complete? I realized that the safety net was still there. Not everything I worry about is going to make or break me. The situations were just a little different.

Sarcastic diagnosis and emotional growth

The time had come for me to get a checkup. These past recent months I had been having anxiety symptoms manifest themselves as physical symptoms, such as tingling.
As I walked into the doctor’s office, I was handed a form that was a packet of questions about my health. There were checkboxes and lines for listing symptoms and I was in heaven. At last I was going to get it all out, to release my inner demons onto page instead of in a text that would surely get the response: “No, Claire, it’s not a blood clot.”
I felt like I was back in high school filling out my European AP written exam – everyone else hated it, but I relished it. I wrote side comments to the checkboxes and questions in the comments section. I went to town.
After forty minutes of scribbling my symptoms away, I waited and eventually got called to go in the room.
You can imagine the appointment being a fairly regular experience. I was nervous but I kept my cool, and I talked a mile a minute listing off everything that had been worrying me.
My doctor, like everyone else, rolled her eyes at me.
“You’re twenty-two,” she said in her Eastern European accent. “You can handle everything. I wish I was feeling what you’re feeling.”
But, she wasn’t cold with me as she explained the ways I could reduce stress in my life.
“If you drink a lot, maybe your body doesn’t like alcohol,” she said. “Then just stop drinking, it’s okay.”
Obviously she had just met me.
As I was finishing my checkup, she told me that I was going to get my blood drawn. I tensed up, thinking about the incident with the IV. She left the room and I waited, controlling my breathing and sitting. My memory of waiting for the IV to be inserted and then my crying and the oral doctor getting angry at me only was beginning to manifest as the medical assistant came into the room.
“Hi, I just want you to know that I get nervous with things like this,” I said immediately.
She played along with making small talk about the city and even though I kept my focus on the ceiling, I looked down at her getting the kit ready.
“I’m not going to look,” I said.
“No, don’t look,” she said.
As she put the needle in, I stopped mid-sentence, feeling elated and my smile spreading across my face.
“I’m doing it!” I exclaimed. “Oh this is such a big thing for me, I had a panic attack when I tried getting my wisdom teeth out last year and this means that I can do it!”
I was getting choked up with hope and pride, feeling as if I could conquer the world.
“That’s very good,” the medical assistant said motherly.
Once she finished up I did feel a bit light-headed (getting worked up over my medical accomplishments) and as I put my head down on the cot, I laughed and giggled and breathed easier and deeper, relief allowing me to relax my muscles and mind.
I signed out and left the building, knowing that I had done something that everyone has to do, and something that was very easy to do. But the mind can trick us into thinking there’s some dark narrative about to be written about our lives. Today I wasn’t reading that book.