The first time I saw it I was five years old. My mother was crying at the edge of the sofa, forehead resting on her hand, and my dad was standing by the kitchen window, arms crossed and looking outside at nothing in particular. My mom wouldn’t respond to me and my dad would only answer “Go to your mother.” I went to sleep that night not knowing what had happened.
As a teenager, coming home from church on Saturday nights my mom would talk about the people in the congregation. She would criticize everyone, compare them to herself, and I would wonder how she could be so nice to people that she didn’t really like. I wondered if her kindness was genuine and she told me that when I was grown up, I would understand.
When I was in high school I thought about what my life would look like at 20. How much better off my life would be as an adult, outside of the chaotic walls and archaic minds that I thought surrounded me then. I thought about the degree I would almost have, the job I would be working, the apartment I would live in, the car I would drive, the friendships I would form with intelligent people, and most of all my accomplishments. I would have finished high school at the top of my class, and I would, of course, be top of my class in college too.
These were the things that would catapult me into the world of adulthood that I so longed to be a part of. Then at 20, I had an identity crisis. Nothing had gone how I had wanted it to and I felt even more like a child than I had in high school. Adults have their life together and I, quite frankly, did not.
I realized, over time, that my parents aren’t perfect and that being an adult is messy. My mom who I looked up to, who I had wanted to be just like, wasn’t who I had thought she was. She didn’t have it all perfectly together. My mom is elegant and lights up a room when she smiles. She’s also just a person. A messy, flawed person.
It would take me years of depression, a heavy dose of introspection, and a lot of reading to come to terms with who I was as a person and, more importantly, to realize that adulthood is a lie.
This idea that after you reach a certain point in your life, are X years old, or have had X experiences, you are now an adult, is rubbish. It insinuates that you get to a point where you are no longer allowed to make mistakes.
The truth is that you are never finished growing and life is all about making mistakes. It’s a part of the process. It’s a part of being human, of living life.
If you look at other people and think that they have it together, they don’t. The truth is that nobody has it together completely. Everyone has their own issues, their own experiences, and their own perceptions to deal with. You don’t see everything. You don’t know their inner struggles. Even if someone can exude confidence in a particular space, that’s all it is. Contentment and confidence in that particular space.
This is not to say that we are hopeless. It’s just the opposite. When you stop trying to run towards an arbitrary goal post, you can instead enjoy where you are right now. You will mess up and make many mistakes on your journey, but you will also grow, laugh, and have fun along the way.