I grew up believing that there would come an age that I would suddenly become an adult. The “magic” number of ages. Long gone would be the days of oversleeping and irresponsibility. Taxes would make sense to me! Credit score? I’d wake up with a perfect one, and the full knowledge of how to maintain it. My health would be amazing, and I would love working out. I would have the solutions to problems before they ever arose. I would be able to say “No” to people. I would know how to cook an entire feast for a small family. Hell, I’d even become a neater person. I didn’t know the exact age it would happen, so I just guessed twenty-one. It seemed about right. Eight-teen still seemed too young, I mean I could not even drink legally! Twenty-five seemed a little too old. Twenty-one it must be!
I anxiously waited to turn twenty-one. I was excited for my birthday, but I was nervous. When was all this knowledge going to come to me? As my birthday grew closer, I certainly didn’t feel wiser. But maybe my nerves had something to do with it. I assured myself the time was approaching and my life as an adult was truly about to begin.
The morning of my twenty-first birthday, I woke up and I immediately felt different. Just not the different I was hoping for. I had crashed on my best friend’s couch after a night of celebrating. (And by celebrating, I mean being two of six people total in a bar drinking, due to a massive snow storm that was happening. The struggles of being a February baby, I tell you.) My back was sore and my head was pounding. This was not what I had in mind when I pictured my new-found adulthood! Nevertheless, I had to pick myself up and go home.
From that day, I convinced myself that I had to think again. Twenty-five isn’t too far away, maybe that was the age adulthood would happen for me. Until then, I just had to say “f*ck it” and make it up as I went along. They always say “fake it ’till you make it,” so that must hold some truth. I went along pretending I knew what I was doing. This wasn’t too hard, thanks to the magic of online resources like Google and Youtube, I could learn anything! I learned Photoshop online, surely I could learn to be an adult until it came to me on my next “big” birthday.
Before that day came, an event took place that truly led to my big “ah ha!” moment. It was something that was said over dinner with my co-worker. I had started a new job in March of 2015, and made friends with a co-worker who started at the same time. Now although we came from two different paths of life, we became really close and would have monthly dinner dates. I was venting to her at one of our dates about how I felt like I would never “get my life together.” (If you know me well enough, you know this is my favorite thing to say!) I asked her, “how are you an adult and when do I become one?” And she told me, “sometimes it feels like I’m still pretending.”
Queue the glass-shattering noise, because a major breakthrough was on its way. There she was, this “adult” : married, two kids, homeowner, the whole nine yards; telling me, she felt like she was still pretending to be an adult. Right there and then, it finally hit me. NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO BE AN ADULT. We are all just pretending! (Some of us much better at it than others, clearly.) It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off of my shoulders.
You see, the thing is, I have never been the one to compare myself to others. I’m me and that is all I am ever going to be. However, when it came to being an “adult,” I could not help to think I was falling behind from my peers. While at twenty-one, a lot of my former classmates were preparing for graduation, I was on a different journey. I planning to return to school after taking a year off to figure out what it was that I really wanted to do. Due to this, I felt extremely behind in the race of life, and felt like I had to run a million miles to catch up. Hence, my obsession with becoming this so called “adult.” I felt like my peers were so much better than me, for having figured it all out before I did. I keep thinking this was something that would just “come to me,” never stopping to think that it was not that simple.
I took me awhile, twenty-something years to be exact, to figure out that I was never going to have it all figured out. And that is okay! Life is not a race. You don’t get a medal for learning how to take care of yourself or how credit works. Once I realized that being an adult might just be 90% faking it and 10% making it, I felt so much better. We as people, put so much pressure on ourselves to have it all “together.” We drive ourselves crazy thinking that Joe Shmoe has it all figured out, but we can’t even make a doctor’s appointment without having a minor anxiety attack. They say flowers don’t worry about the flowers next to them, they just bloom at their own pace. (Or something as equally motivating on a dollar store picture.) And that holds true for me. As much as I hoped there would be, there is no “magic” number. I had to stop being concerned about what my former peers were doing, and just focus on my own journey. It’s not always going to be perfect, or pretty. I’m not going to know everything and Google will not have all the answers. But I can trust myself to know that I will figure it out, even if it’s one step at a time.