The Secret To Being An Adult
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Politics and Activism

The Secret To Being An Adult

You are really still a child.

The Secret To Being An Adult
Mike Murphy

I am 20 years old, and I am an adult.

Even after legally being an adult for two years, just typing that sentence feels strange, although it probably shouldn’t. I am a sophomore in college. I have a job. I am living without my parents and I am more or less in charge of my own schedule. I don’t need my parents’ permission to sign forms anymore, and I have a bank account. I am an adult, but honestly, most of the time I don’t feel like one. I exist in a strange in between plane of reality where I continually panic about everyday things and call my parents for advice, while meticulously laying out my day to day schedule for the next week in my calendar. Legally, I am an adult, but I still feel very much like a child.

I do not feel like an adult.

Here is a little secret for you: I don’t think anyone else my age does either.

Since coming to college, I have had several conversations with my friends about the fact that we are adults. They usually end with us sighing in despair and shaking our heads in disbelief. Sometimes, they end with lying face down on the floor, whispering into the carpet, “How am I an adult? I don’t want to be an adult!”

I think as children, we idealize adults. We think that when we hit that magical age of 18, we will have our entire lives planned. We will suddenly understand the strange world of money and bank accounts and meal planning. We will no longer be forced to sit at the kids’ table at family gatherings, and we will be allowed to drive and buy things without our parents’ permission and suddenly have control over our lives.

In my experience, that is not exactly how it works.

Yes, I no longer have to sit at the kids’ table. Yes I can manage the money in my bank account now, and I can do quite a few things without my parents’ help (like laundry) but becoming an adult was not the magical transformation I envisioned as a day dreaming child. Becoming an adult was a gradual process, and one that I am still experiencing.

Here is the secret to becoming an adult: you are really still a child. Please understand that I do not mean this in a demeaning way. I am saying that you should embrace the child still inside you. That child will keep you sane.

I am an adult, but I still sleep with my favorite teddy bear. I still love the Magic Tree House books. I still love Disney movies. I still call my mom when I’m upset. I still ask for help all the time when I don’t understand how something works. I still get nervous before I drive or before I speak in front of a group of people. Sometimes, I still want to eat ice cream for breakfast. The only difference is that now that I’m an adult, no one can stop me.

I am an adult, but I am still learning how to navigate this insane world we all inhabit. I do not have all the answers. I do not think anyone does. As an adult, I am learning that not knowing things can be okay.

Being a young, new adult is big and exciting and scary and full of societal pressures and expectations. I think maybe the reason I feel like such an inadequate adult at times is because I think I should know better. I still hold those idealized expectations for myself I used to daydream about as a child. I should not.

I am 20 years old, and I am an adult.

I am 20 years old, and I am still a child.

Here’s the lesson: both of those statements are true, and that is okay.

It is okay to still call your mom when you’re upset. It is okay to not know what you’re doing; you’ll figure it out. It’s okay to splash in mud puddles and color with crayons and watch cartoons. It is okay to be a child, sometimes.

I am 20 years old, and I am an adult.

That sentence is still strange for me to write. I don’t know if it will ever stop being strange.

But you know what? That’s okay.

I am an adult, and I am still learning about the world. I am still growing and changing and working to better myself. If that is what being an adult means, then I love it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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