You know how sometimes you feel like you need a kindergarten accomplishment chart to encourage you to do the simplest things? Gold star for getting out of bed! Gold star for putting on your socks! Pants on? Gold star! Shirt buttoned? Star, star, star!
Sometimes this works. Sometimes it’s all you need to pretend that you’re getting an award for doing the most basic activities on any given day. But sometimes, we can get a little down on ourselves about what we look like as adults. I know I do.
There are days when I can’t get myself to care about anything. For the most part I’m on top of my chores and tasks, and well, you have to be. If you don’t do your laundry, who will? If you don’t clean the house, who will? I stay on top of what needs to be done because I can’t stand living in my own filth. But then, when I really look at it, all I’m doing is the bare minimum. The get out of bed minimum.
Some adult, huh?
I think everyone has an age at which adulthood becomes real for them. For me, that age was thirty. Thirty is the age our extended childhood (our twenties) ends for good. Thirty is the time to get real. Thirty is how old my parents were when they had me.
But when I turned thirty, well, things didn’t feel that much different. My life wasn’t any different, either. The same problems, the same hobbies and interests…all still here. I keep waiting for that magic day when I get my portfolio and briefcase and leather shoes. Adult! But it’s never going to happen, is it?
Instead, I keep adding little bits of experience, little bits of responsibility, little bits of new skills. Those little pieces add up. At 30 I can do much more than I could at 15. I know much more. But the older I get, the more I observe the adults who seemed so adult when I was a kid. Grownups. And are they really grown up?
They’re older, but now they’re more like peers than superiors. They are our comrades in the trenches now. Now we know their secrets.
That was when I realized we’re all faking it. There’s no age at which you become an adult, have all the answers, get it all together. Some of us have the opportunity to learn vital skills earlier than others, but all the same, no one gets it perfect. We’re all just children in fully grown bodies, repeating the dynamics we learned as children. Faking it ’til we make it.
Part of personality theory, especially the Enneagram, is about studying and unlearning our childhood dynamics so we can grow more fully into ourselves. A lot of growing up is releasing the pains of childhood and developing into whole people while learning new skills and abilities along the way. Figuring out what our limits are, or what we want our limits to be. Making, and accepting, mistakes. But the affectation of being an adult? The appearance of what an adult should look like? I’m going to have to let that idea go.
I’ve got too many Pokemon plushies to collect.