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Don't call me 'ma'am'
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I’m getting old, which is a realization that hit me like a sack of bricks when my husband John and I went to the movies recently.

“Excuse me ma’am, will you pretend to be my aunt so that they’ll let me into the movie theater?” a teenager, who had apparently left his ID at home, asked me.

Being called “ma’am” by anyone older than 13 years old is enough to make me cringe, but just knowing that someone thinks that I look old enough to be a high school kid’s aunt was a swift kick to my ego.

Coupled with the movie theater cashier’s refusal to look at my driver’s license for verification that I was indeed older than 21 years old -- trust me, I kept asking if he needed to see it -- and the fact that I’ve been referred to as “ma’am” by far too many 20-year-olds in recent weeks, I’d say that I’m teetering on the verge of a full-on quarter-life crisis.

And don’t even get me started on the mini hissy-fit that I threw after a 5-year-old in the Children’s Church class that John and I teach assumed that I was 30 years old. (But then again, that same 5-year-old said John looked 76 years old, so I guess I got off pretty easy with that one.)

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’ve been taking my impending 26th birthday pretty hard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love birthdays. And I know that living to see another June 20 is definitely a gift that I do not take for granted.

But I’d be lying if I said that the thought of slowly leaving my mid-20s and approaching my 30s doesn’t scare the daylights out of me.

Turning 25 years old wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Like your 18th and 21st birthday, your 25th birthday is a milestone.

Last year I welcomed it with open arms -- reveling in the fact that I was finally old enough to rent a car without paying an onslaught of ridiculous fees and would be able to see a pretty substantial drop in my car insurance rates.

But now that I’ve completely blown through every age requirement that I can think of, my 26th birthday is starting to look like the “Year of Realization.” The year when you certainly don’t fit in with the carefree and just-out-of-college crowd, and are still a misfit when immersed with the family crowd.

Now it’s just a slippery slope to the point where I’m talking to an old friend about how the “past 10 years have just flown by.” (Seriously, how can 10, 15 or 20 years just “fly by”? How can you not remember more than a decade?)

But I’m sure if I take a moment to reflect on what many of you probably perceive as the ultimate act of self-pity, I can still be appreciative of the many opportunities that still lie ahead this year. 

And while I know that it’s certainly time for me to actually start contributing a meaningful portion of my paycheck to my IRA, I’d like to think of this upcoming year as an opportunity to seriously consider doing things that I previously thought of as a “what if.” 

As my husband says, 26 years old marks the beginning of the stage of our lives when we should know what we’re going to do with our lives -- the start of the time when we stop talking about what we want to do and actually start doing it.

Maybe I should embrace the fact that I’m getting older, and consider it as just another opportunity to gain more wisdom.

Besides, I’m sure that by the time that I turn 50 years old and approach my mid-life crisis, everything that I think that I’m going through now will seem downright laughable.

The only thing that I know is that you better not call me “ma’am” then either.