What does it mean to be an adult? What does it mean to "grow up?" These are questions that I've continuously asked myself this year.
I am now a college graduate. Even saying that feels weird and I hesitate to believe it. 2016 was the year that I thought would never come. When I spoke about graduating from college in high school, it seemed like a distant future, something that would eventually happen, but to someone else. Now, here we are, I am on the verge of something calling itself "adulthood," and I'm trying to understand exactly what that means. The truth is, while I have a few years of education and experience under my belt, I most definitely feel like a kid.
My friend Maytal and I recently saw a documentary called "How to Dance in Ohio" about a group of young people with autism who, like us, are on the brink of that seemingly infinite period of life known as being "grown up." There is one scene in this documentary where one of the main characters, Jessica, fights with her boss and then sits in the break room, eating a sandwich, and says sadly, "I wish I could talk to my mom." Maytal told me later, "If that's not the perfect snapshot of being 22, I don't know what is." I can't help but agree with her. Rather than feeling "grown up," a phrase that seemingly nods at an ending, a capstone, a finishing of some process, I feel as though I am just beginning. Having finished up with my "education," I feel as though there is so much that I don't know and need to learn. I feel slightly reliant and fledgling. I need my mom and the guidance and wisdom of those who have already been tested. However, I'm also excited to be tested myself. I'm so excited by my insatiable curiosity and the shocking newness of both myself and the world around me. I have heard that being wise is recognizing that you don't know everything. Maybe the definition of adulthood lies along that same axis. Perhaps, being an adult is recognizing your place within a larger whole. It's realizing that you've been gifted a small plot of land in a very large world and it's your privilege to grow what you want on it. Maybe, it's mundane things like learning how to do taxes or doing your laundry every few days instead of every few weeks. Maybe it's a mixture of the two. Whatever it is, I will find out soon as I step into it, just as I do with any body of water, a little timidly at first to check the temperature and then wholeheartedly in a flying leap because, really, the water's just fine.