Sunday, September 15, 2013

Adulthood is a Lie

The title of this blog might give it away, but honestly it's how I'm getting through life: I'm really just faking it. I make it up as I go along and hope things turn out okay!

I recently started helping out with leading the Youth Group at my church. (They want someone younger - and not anyone's parent - to be a "role model" for the kids. And they picked me. I think it's crazy, too.) I'm not sure when, but at some point I really think we might have to have a discussion about being a Grown-up and how it never actually really happens. Like, I pay my bills on time, yes, and have a functionally clean apartment (not spotless, but it'll do). Technically, I am an adult. But… I don't feel like it.

No one tells you when you're a kid that Adulthood isn't some magical state where you always know exactly what to do, exactly when to do it, and all your problems can be easily solved. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought of it this way; I'd hit some magic "adult" age like 20 or 25 and have everything figured out, life would always make sense, I'd have all the answers. I'm pretty sure I felt like I had more of the answers at 16 than I do now.) You just assume that you'll get through school, get a job, and you'll be an Adult who can be totally responsible and do Adult things and solve everyone's problems. (In retrospect, that was a silly expectation, considering the number of times I thought adults were doing a pretty shitty job of running things. But of course, I'd be a Real Adult and never have those problems!) And then you achieve one goal, but no, you're not really an Adult yet, you don't have a Big Kid job, you're still in school. And then you finish grad school and know that you'll be an Adult when you've got an apartment of your own. Except Real Adults have apartments that are nicely furnished and decorated, and you've only got half the curtains up on one set of windows (true story), so you clearly don't count yet. And you don't really have responsibility for any living things yet (certainly not children, as that would be terrifying, but not even a dog, just a snake, and that doesn't really count because they're so low-maintenance) so clearly you're not a Real Adult. And some days you don't do your dishes, and you haven't vacuumed in ages so there is hair everywhere, and sometimes you don't even shower (let's not even talk about the chocolate explosion that you still haven't cleaned off your car seat), and Real Adults wouldn't have the sorts of problems with motivation that you have. They might have lists a mile long of all the things they want to do (like make a cool header for their blog, or finish hanging the curtains in their living room, or actually clean their apartment, or alter some clothes they picked up at the thrift store two years ago) except they actually do them.

Except that's wrong. Because (alright, I could be wrong about this too) I think we all just spend our lives kind of blindly groping our way toward our next goal, pretending like we're super-productive Real Adults who can Do It All and Have It All and still get enough sleep. (And some of us will actually admit to pretending.) I, for one, would just like to acknowledge that I'm a Real Person, just a silly little human who makes mistakes and doesn't know everything and is just trying to get through my life and maybe improve myself a little bit, if I'm lucky that day. I'm getting better at forgiving myself for not living up to my own ridiculous expectations; I am me and if sometimes that means the only thing I accomplish in a day is making a lunch to take to work then that is enough, I am enough, and I can try again tomorrow to be a better version of me, but if I don't succeed tomorrow I can try again the next day and all the days after that.

 So I think we should start telling kids that growing up never really ends. You never really become a Real Adult because we think of Real Adults as capable of doing All the Things! And no one can ever do that. (Certainly not me.) And if we can admit that to ourselves, and forgive ourselves for that, then maybe we can admit that about other people and forgive them and end up living in a kinder, gentler world. Which would be nice.