1. Adults don’t have it all figured out.
When I was young, I always had a lot of respect for adults. It seemed that my soccer coach knew everything there was to know about soccer, my English teacher had perfect grammar and my dad was invincible. It wasn’t until the first angst-filled teenage utterance of, “No Mom, you’re wrong,” that the illusion shattered. I could no longer live in the delusion where growing up equaled figuring it all out and with closer examination, I found that adults are constantly wrong, imperfect and lost.
2. Money is everything.
As a proud 17-year-old, I claimed that I didn’t need money to be happy. I believed it too. I would live off of relationships and art, happiness and kind thoughts. My dad laughed at me and I shrugged him off. After all, what did a lawyer know about a happy life of non-materialistic simplicity? Then I tried to go snowboarding in college or eat at a great restaurant or see my favorite bands and suddenly being broke was cause for misery. But what of the consumerist-shunning careers that I idealized and admired: the artist, the musician, the filmmaker…the writer? I always knew that money doesn’t equal happiness but growing up with a lack of cash means missing out on things you want to do.
3. Relationships don’t last; actually, nothing lasts.
In elementary school, my best friends and I couldn’t imagine a world without each other. We planned our weddings, our jobs; our forevers together. It didn’t occur to me to wonder where all of my mother’s first grade friendships went. In time though, people move to Tokyo or find drugs or someone else and you wonder if permanence is just another lie made up by modern-day dictators.
4. Perfection doesn’t exist, but you will live your life hoping that it does.
Yeah, yeah I will never be the supermodel on the cover of Vogue, I can live with that, but the same quest for flawlessness never ends. Similar to the adults-don’t-know-everything realization is the one where you wonder what the perfect “you” would be and spend your life flailing around trying to find it. In high school, I posed a question to a friend during a stoner-like philosophy session at midnight. Can you think of one person that you want to be? Someone who is perfect? Perhaps someone you know? Can you think of anyone you know really well who has no issues or annoying quirks or acne? I believed in these “perfect people” when I was little, but I also believed in the Easter Bunny.
5. There is so much more to the world than you ever thought.
Every day I become a little less of a know-it-all. There is more evil in the world than I had ever imagined. Yet there is also more good I have yet to discover and learn from. With age I am able to shed my innocence to face a terrifying, imperfect world and yet I smile at this challenge. Besides, aging is the one thing that no human is exempt from. Growing up sucks, but at least we aren’t alone.