I saw a Facebook status from my friend’s little sister that said, “I turn 18 in two days. Ugh, I don’t want to be an adult.”
Naturally, I laughed. This naïve little 17 year-old girl thinks that in two days, some switch in her life will magically turn on and she’ll need to have it all figured out like the rest of us.
She’ll need to know what she wants to be now that she’s suddenly “grown up” and if she needs a college degree in order to do it. She’ll need to know what college will be best for her and if she can afford it. She’ll need to decide if the boy that she’s dated since the beginning of high school is worth the time and the distance.
To me, 18 does not mark adulthood, although having to make all of those decisions will feel a lot harder than following rules set by parents and teachers. Most likely, she’ll still have a lot of time to “figure things out” and “get her life together” and “adult.” But she won’t realize it.
At 22, I understand how she feels. It’s been four years since I turned 18 and decided to go to college to be a writer, but I feel like I’m still not ready to be an adult. The training wheels are coming off for real this time, and I feel woefully unprepared. I feel exactly like my friend’s little sister, but this time it feels justified.
At 18, I did what all of my friends were doing, which was pick a college and go to it, and it still terrified the hell out of me. Now, all of my friends are graduating, getting real jobs and getting engaged, and here I am, again feeling like I’m not ready.
I don’t want to “adult,” or maybe I do and I just don’t know how.
Life was easy at 18, when I still felt like I was following the path that everyone else was on, but now there are a million roads and I’m not sure which one to take. Some of them aren’t even in my control. I can’t control whether I meet the love of my life or whether the person I’m interviewing with will decide to give me a job.
But something I do remember from being 18 is that life happens whether you’re ready or not. And something that I’ve learned since then is that you can make a million wrong decisions and still turn your life around.
So, here is some advice for you, and also for me: You’re never going to be ready, but that actually doesn’t matter at all. There are going to be hard times when you feel like you just want to crawl back under the covers of your childhood bed and will yourself to be a kid again. There are going to be times when you feel like you don’t have control over anything, because you don’t know how to fix your problems. There are going to be times when you feel like you aren’t ready for whatever happens next. But being an adult has nothing to do with that. And no matter what, those confusing days will pass.
At 18, I thought that I had to grow up and figure it all out, and at 22, I feel like I need to do the same. But truthfully, I feel like I could be 65 and still not have any clue how to be an adult. It’s scary, but it’s also kind of a relief.
Going to college didn’t make me feel any more like an adult, and maybe being in a serious relationship or having a full-time job wouldn’t either. I’ve learned a lot of lessons since 18 and I know that I still have many more to go.
I’ll figure out how to grow up someday, but for now I choose to remain a kid and make the most of my childhood, however long it may last.