How many of you have said or remembered saying as kids “I can’t wait till I grow up,” ? Most of the time this was followed up by a classic ‘I won’t have to go to bed at 8 o’clock’, ‘I don’t have to follow my parents’ rules anymore’, ‘I can make my own money and buy that myself’, or ‘I plan on being really rich and having the absolute best the world has to offer.’ I know if I’m being truly honest with myself what I said in my fifth grade yearbook was that I was going to be a famous movie star, live in Hawaii and adopt two children. I am now a 28-year-old preschool teacher, married and still living in New Jersey with no children and no desire to have any quite yet.
See, when we were young we have this illusion that our parents are these demigods who to get to create their own destiny and that we, their children are kind of like their indentured servant’s, we hope one we have it all together, like them. What life doesn’t prepare you for is that one day and at different times in your life you may have many days where you literally sit in your car and cry. No, I’m serious you literally sit there and cry the ugliest cry that you ever will in your life and wonder “why can’t my life be like So-and-So’s? So-and-so has it together, so-and-so is married, has kids she/he manages effortlessly, has a job that he/she absolutely loves, drives an amazing car, and just seems to tackle everything with ease.” The answer is because your journey is different then so-and-so’s journey.
I remember for a good portion of my 20s I kept a lot of my feelings and how I felt like I’ve been failing at adulting to myself. I always I assumed people like my parents and the other adults around me that I grew up knowing and trusting had their ‘act together’ so to speak. I still remember being a pre-teenage girl looking up at my Dad after an argument with my Mom and saying “I just can’t wait till I have my own place till I don’t live here anymore” and he looked at me and he gave me some kind of cryptic smile and said “don’t be in such a rush to grow up because when you do you’ll wish you were a kid again.” I also remember grumbling as I went to my room not sure if that helped my feelings any bit.
The truth is as kids we don’t realize just how easy we have it, with summers off, being told that as long as we kept our room clean we could have friends over, family vacations and all these other things that seem to vanish once we come of age and weight of the world is thrusted upon our shoulders. I haven’t taken an actual vacation in almost two years, before that it was six years. So my father’s words as he promised have come back to haunt me there are days where I wish I could be a kid, however there’s much to learn from growing old too.
See, one of the things about getting older is that you start to see people in your life that you idolized and put on pedestals for a long time and realize that they are human too. The older I got the more I realized my father had to work many long overtime hours just to get us that trip to Disney. The older I got the more I was able to see that even my parents had to sacrifice things that they wanted and needed not just for my brother and I but for the sake of bills. When I got into my 20s I found myself looking around at my peers and thinking that while it seemed they had their act together, they were really doing no better than me. They were going to work each day working long hours to pay for their home/apartment, their student loans and other necessities which were crucial in life like food and electricity, it was then I realized nobody has their act together. While I truly am blessed to have not only my own space, a wonderful husband and amazing fur baby to greet me at the door each day, nothing really prepares you for how hard adulting really is until you’re there.
Adulting is magical but it is also disheartening. You realize all the things that you imagined for yourself when you were little are not realistic. You realize there’s no such thing as a perfect person. I think one of the greatest blessings I was able to take away from my experience being an adult is that everybody has their flaws and their quirks, when we are young they don’t really come to the surface so much because we are the ones that are being cared for. Once you’re an adult you a window into who someone truly is as a person. You get to share your life experiences with them and listen to their life experiences wordlessly only hoping to one day turn out as well as they did.
The ugly truth about being an adult is that you will never feel like you’re doing it right but that’s when you know that you actually are doing it right. We all just do our best and pray that our best is enough to get by, we all cry when we are faced with personal failures and crushing defeats, we all stumble. It is also important to realize that we are only human and that with the right support in life we can get through anything.
The biggest thing adult thing has taught me is that you’re never really alone in your struggles. I’ve learned to surround myself with people that love and support me no matter what and I’ve also learned to love myself. My mantra each day is ‘I did everything I could today to make the world a better place, to make a difference in the lives of people who know me. I am also human I realize that I have flaws and I realize the only way that I am ever going to succeed is if I learn from those around me.’
Being an adult has taught me that we are all deep down still children who want to be accepted, want to be loved and want to find their unique place in this hectic world and leave their mark for years to come. Some of us are destined to lead quiet lives until we pass away but some of us are destined to be in the spotlight and be the movers and shakers of this world. When I was young, I used to think I would be one of those movers and shakers but now that I’m older I realize that although I may not be the mover or shaker in the spotlight that my words and actions do have the ability to influence somebody who may become one in the future. Perhaps my influence will make somebody who is destined to be a mover and shaker cross my path and maybe I meant influence them in more ways than I could ever imagine.
Being an adult isn’t always easy, but in the grand scheme of things what it offers is beautiful and enough.
Love you. Mean it.