When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?
So, what does it feel like to feel like a grown-up?
When I was a little girl, I used to think my parents knew all the answers to all life’s questions. It was a shock to me when I first realized that they didn’t. Maybe that’s when I started growing up a little bit.
I used to watch the senior girls in high school when I was a freshman. They seemed so sure of themselves, so confident, Then I became a senior girl, and mostly what I felt was “Oh dear, how am I supposed to act now?”
College? I’d feel more grown-up, right? Hah. My first job, my first serious boyfriend,my first time living away from home and quite literally on my own, and I was exhilarated at my independence, but there were situations I just didn’t know how to deal with. Even on graduation day and one week before my wedding I felt tons of questions that I didn’t think an adult would have.
Well, surely being married would make me feel like a grown-up. After all, that’s one of the most grown-up matters of your whole life! And to some degree, yes, I began to feel a bit more confident. But I also felt as if we were playing house. The game became a lot more serious when we had our first baby, and then the second, third, and fourth. Yes, being a parent tends to make you feel a bit more grown up. It also makes you tired, because in those early years you get really sleep-deprived.
My children heading off to kindergarten made my own age more of a reality. Then, the next day when they went off to college, I felt even more grown up. But you know, I still didn’t have that confidence that I’d always expected to feel as an adult. Still not really feeling the grown-up thing.
All this time, I worked as a substitute and then a full-time teacher. Lots of responsibility, lots of fun, lots of hard work. I felt competent to do the work, but there were mornings, as I faced that first-hour class, when I felt like a complete fraud. I should be sitting in the student desk, not standing behind the lectern.
So at age 50 I went back to school, and boy oh boy did I ever NOT feel like a grown-up. At age 53 I got my masters, and went to work as a psychotherapist. What I learned is that most grown-ups don’t feel like grown-ups. Most of us live out our responsibilities, find a lot of joy along the way, and even as we see the marks of time on our faces in the bathroom mirror every morning, still we feel like the kids we were in high school. We’re not always sure of the answers, of the right things to do.
Grandchildren think we know everything. They don’t think we were ever young. They have a hard time imagining us as little kids who needed help tying our shoes. For some reason, having those innocent, trusting, loving little faces looking at me with such complete confidence has helped me feel about as grown-up as I’ll ever feel.
The truth is, though, that we never do get to the point where we have all the answers to all the problems.
Only God has that kind of wisdom, and so I find the most comfort and confidence in trusting Him to help me be the most wise grown-up that I’ll never be.
Here’s an ad I loved when I first saw it. I think it’s a perfect reflection of how most adults see themselves 🙂