Tag Archives: grownup

Send in the clowns.

“One thing you’re going to need to do is stop comparing yourself to other people,” she said.  “You can’t measure success or happiness or progress by other people’s standards.  Nobody can.  But especially not you.  You’re never going to fit.”

Her name was Pam, and she was doing a psychic reading for me.  She looked at my soul, she said, and while most people’s souls look like philosophers or sages – calm, collected, focused – she said mine was a circus performer.

No, not a circus performer.  The whole three-ring circus.

“I see you on the trapeze,” she said, “and swallowing swords.”  I told her that explained a lot.

She had told me to come prepared with a guiding question or two, and I told her that I was often uncomfortable in my own skin.  There were so many things I loved to do, learn, make, and talk about.  A little insight into which direction I should be moving in would be helpful.  When she was led to my soul by her spirit guide (bear with me, okay?), she started laughing.  I made a face.

“Is it that bad?” You don’t want your psychic to laugh at your soul.

She caught her breath.  “I’m sorry, Tessa.  It’s just – you have led so many hedonistic lives, and you are obviously trying not to do that in this life.  But your soul is your soul, and it wants experience.  It wants to experience everything, and you have to let it.  For a little bit, anyway.”

Just when I think I’m ready to grow up.

I’ve lived my life in a swirl of phases.  I learned the clarinet, no, the oboe, no, the violin – because I just had to.  I wanted to be an actress, a writer, a veterinarian.  I wanted to live in Ireland, in France, in New Mexico, and each time I got wrapped up in a new obsession I thought it might be the thing where at last I’d found my niche.  I thought each would bring me some kind of peace, some feeling of belonging and expertise.  There are many people in my life who take my interests as jokes, almost.  These next big things are fleeting, best left alone, never to be encouraged.  I understand the sentiment.

So my soul’s a circus.

“Don’t worry, you’ll feel really comfortable and settled by 45,” said Pam.  I think she saw my lip twitch.

“That long?”

“We’ll put it this way: you’re a three-ring circus now, and you’ll settle on one ring around 35.  But there’s still a lot going on in that one ring.”

And I wondered what this meant for all those normal life goals that people have.  Even I, a circus, have them – marriage, kids, a house on a farm with a horse.  Or at least the marriage, kids, and a place I call home all the time.  I didn’t ask her about these things, because I thought that finding my niche would lead to the comfortable settlement that leads to these things.  That’s what people do.  In fact, that’s what many of my friends and family have done, and I feel I’m falling behind.

But according to her, I’ve been spending too much of my life trying to fit pegs into holes, because they just don’t.  They won’t fit.  I won’t fit.

So all this energy I’ve spent trying to figure out how to be a grown-up, now that I’m 30, is just short of a total waste.  I have to think of what to do with my five years’ reprieve.  She told me to travel, to write, to work in a theater.  These have all been tugging at my insides for months, causing such anxiety as I tried to numb them.  I told myself to shut up, to be reasonable, to think clearly and rationally.  Whenever I tried to think of a five-year plan I was intimidated by a blank page, not sure what to do when there were so many impractical desires clouding my mind.

As usual, I was doing it wrong.

“You need to know that your soul wants to experience everything – art and travel and everything else that makes your heart race,” said Pam, and I nodded, teary.  “And you need to stop thinking that’s a problem.”

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And the third theme of 2014 is…GROWN(-)UP.

I’ve been keeping a deck of tarot cards on my bedside table (Aleister Crowley’s Thoth deck, for anyone interested in knowing).  It’s been a source of inspiration sometimes, as well as a starting point for much-needed introspection for me.  Also, oddly enough, it makes me take the time to pray.

I haven’t been a prayerful person in years, and I’m still trying to work out what prayers are and whom they serve, but it has always been my habit to say some sort of prayer before drawing a card, doing a reading, consulting someone (or something, in this case) for better perspective.  It all started when I bought my first deck of tarot cards.  I was in middle school, I think, and my mother took me to Seven Stars (back when it was in Harvard Square).  After poring over many beautiful decks I chose one that was painted in watercolors, big fat lines and blurred edges.  I had three favorites: the Star (a naked woman in a lake, surrounded in varying shades of black and green), the Six of Cups (two chubby-legged children playing with the fairies and rainbows that spilled from golden chalices), and Death (partly because I felt badass to know it wasn’t a negative message, partly because it was a skeleton with a butterfly floating from its pelvis).

In the car, my mother reminded me to put on my seat belt, then asked me to promise her that I would always take a moment to say a prayer before a reading, for the benefit of the seeker, of myself.  In deference to God or some other higher power as I dabbled in esotericism.  I took this tarot thing very seriously, and I always said a prayer.  Something solemn but perfunctory.  God, let this go well.  Or, God, I don’t mean to offend.  Something like that.

The other night I asked the air for advice, for insight, before drawing three cards to see what I needed to know at this stage in my life.

Tonight I held the deck to my heart and thought of all my fellow Kindreds, some whom I know quite well by now and others whose expressions in this project give me a better understanding of who they are and how they work.  I wished for you, specific wishes and vague, but always concentrating on you.  I drew this card:


I had never seen the Six of Cups reversed before!  Upon reading some more about what this means, I learned this card can suggest that one is clinging to one’s past in such a way that you inhibit yourself from experiencing the present and moving into your future.

This particular guide said something that really stood out to me:

“The Six of Cups is a card of nostalgia, childlike love and generosity, and a carefree, naïve outlook on life. Reversed, it suggests that you may have had unrealistically rosy ideas about a particular stage of life, based on your dreams and ideals from when you were younger. For example, you may have always pictured yourself as married with children by 25, only to realise that once you hit 25, you had other goals in mind. Or you may be disappointed that you have reached a particular age but have not fulfilled your childhood dreams just yet.”

When I said it stood out, I mean it sang to me.  I keep making fun of the idea that, at age 30, I’m still not an adult.  My expectations of myself as a child were so huge that I may never be an adult.  And the more I complain about this, the more I realize that most people feel this way, at one time or another. But it’s not that we’re all living in the past, and it’s not that we haven’t matured (do you see how my tarot prayers and uses have changed?) – we just aren’t living the lives we expected.  And frankly, who does?

So I ask you all kinds of things: are you living up to your own expectations? What have you wanted for yourself?  Has that changed over time?  Do you feel like you’re moving forward?  How might you be holding yourself back?  And if you’d rather this weren’t so introspective, tell me this: what is a grown-up?  Who are your favorite grown-ups?  Make one up for me.

I say this as a person who just bought a Little Prince sweatshirt, as a person who just caught up with her best friend from elementary school (over drinks!), as a 30-year-old who lives with her father, as the girl who first stood up for herself because she wanted to be Peter Pan in the school play, as the college dropout who is taking an acting class simply because it is impractical.  But also as the woman who just bought a juicer, as the woman who is trying to commit more to yoga…

That’s actually all the adult stuff I’ve been up to of late, but you get the idea.  But good luck!  And let this go well.

Jess Mullen

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