1. She's so responsible.
2. She's wise/mature/aware beyond her years.
3. She's always dependable.
For the most part, these were very flattering. I never particularly liked the word 'dependable' as it made me think of things like orthopedic shoes and polyester culottes, but I liked that people knew they could trust me. Especially with their children, because that is how I earned spending money. But beside that, it was like being given the golden ticket into adult circles. And I wasn't about to waste it by acting my age.
By junior high I had, both because of personality and social conditioning, cultivated an air of someone older. I had survived my brief foray in to fangirldom during the New Kids on the Block craze of 1988-89 and I had read enough of the 150 million Baby-sitters Club books to know I didn't need to read more. So I dove right into Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters and renewed my teachers' faith in my advanced reading skills. I also scorned BOP!, Teen Beat, and pretty much any other publication aimed at adolescents except the occasional issue of Seventeen, but that was because of the fashion. And Vogue sometimes had the naked, so I obviously couldn't throw that into the cart while shopping with the parents. During high school InStyle launched and all my fashion mag issues were solved.
I tried desperately to avoid being labelled, or even being, boy-crazy. I had my little crushes in high school, but they were usually on the scandalously non-LDS boys and had more to do with certain aspects of their personas (hair, attitude, 1967 Mustang) than any real desire to date them. Because who finds lasting happiness in high school? Obviously not the mature young woman whose future plans revolved around at least one university degree and a career in some fabulous metropolis, preferably on the East Coast. So I sat back and let everyone else do the high-drama dating thing and planned for the future.
Eventually, being the mature one got tiresome. Especially around the point, during my sophomore year of college, my roommate's boyfriend called me "the mom of the apartment." Not the description one wants to hear when one is attempting to be a mysterious and alluring woman of the world. And thus the regression began.
It took a while to get going, because habits are hard to break and people don't let you change that easily. But it really took off when I moved in with a girl who had a Shrine to David Duchovny that took up her entire side of our room. It spread to my wall as well and eventually came to encompass many TVBoyfriends and travelled with us through several BYU apartments. How can your day not be good when you wake up to Hugh Jackman or Colin Firth or Jeramy Northam or Michael Vartan staring down at you. Plus you have the euphoria of starvation when you spend all your grocery money on glossy magazines. Of course as we moved on and became Responsible Adults who actually had visitors, we had to down-grade the Shrine. But it is still there in spirit.
The problem now is that I don't know how to stop the regression. A real-life boyfriend might help, but seeing as how I'm possibly more single than I was in high school (Yes, there are degrees of singlehood. They range from Spinster With Multiple Cats to I Call Myself Single Because I'm Dating 5 People on a Regular Basis) the boyfriend thing isn't likely to happen. So I find that at the age of 27, a decade after I should have grown out of it, I'm the girl who buys TV Guide because it has a full-page spread on a TVBoyfriend. At least it isn't Teen Beat.