What do work routines, checkbooks, and khakis all have in common? Well, to me, it symbolizes being an adult. I’m not very fond of those things, and maybe you aren’t either. But I have a very important puzzle to sort out in my head and I ask that you track it with me here.
How do you define being an adult?
Do you remember the day, maybe the exact second you went from being a kid to being an adult? Was it the moment you held that degree in your hand after years of hard work? Maybe when you signed some important bank documents? On your 18th birthday? Perhaps when you held your firstborn in your arms for the first time? Or is it less definitive than that? Was it a slow progression of making more mature choices over time? When your feet and body finally stopped growing? When your parents traded parenting for friendship?
Do you see now? How do you really answer that question?
Yesterday, I was stumped by a teenager’s question to me for her school assignment. Between interviewing me with the questions, “Where were you born?” and “Did you play any sports as a kid?” was a bold, stark question that stumped me to the core.
“What do you like best about being an adult?”
As I sat there pondering the question for a minute all the answers that I thought I should say felt unnatural. I tried to reply with mature responses, but I couldn’t frame the words. Instead, I blurted out, “My kids.”
(Now this post isn’t about my kids. Or having kids. Or being a mom to kids. This conversation is about the nagging after-thoughts I continue to have long after that interview was over.)
My gut reaction to the question was one of pure rebellion. “I’m not an adult. I don’t ever want to grow up,” were the thoughts swarming in my head.
But I am an adult, in the sense of the definition – someone who is fully grown or developed. I have been one for quite some time. So what is the dilemma I have about being an adult now?
I believe for me it is the fear of letting go of the things that make me who I am. I associate growing up and being an adult with closing a book that is filled with freedom, adventure, fun, and wonder and opening the next book in the series filled with life decisions, adult issues, bills, boredom, and old age. A time where I exchange the jeans for khakis. (I really dislike khakis!).
I wonder if I fear that I will no longer find daily adventure. The thought of being forever tethered to the routine that you follow day in and day out sends me into a silent panic. I never want to find myself in conversations about weather patterns and stock markets.
“Keep adventuring and stay not a grown up.” – J.M. Barrie from Peter Pan
Recently Ryan and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. We traveled to Northern California with little pre-planned activities for our five days. Each day was met with spontaneity and adventure. Thinking of something and then just doing it. Getting lost north of San Francisco in the Marin Headlands for hours. Picnic on the bank of the Yuba River. In ’n Out at 2 am. It was the most freeing feeling to think and act like a kid. We had no responsibilities to tend to and no expectations from anyone else to live up to. At the end of each day I was full of satisfaction.
I’m still working through these thoughts, but I have come to the resolution that I associate the end-result of becoming an adult with having to give up the fun things in life for boring ones. And that’s not true at all. I value the idea of becoming more of who you are, and never morphing into someone you are not for the sake of business, relationships, or social circles. I believe age is just a number. Being an adult is lifelong process since we are constantly experiencing, learning, and growing along the way. And I will always be me – still experiencing, still learning, still taking risks.
I asked a few friends to answer the question “What do you like best about being an adult?” Well, I found some very interesting responses.
“Freedom. But then there comes expectations, too.”
“Security in my identity.”
“Having choices. Freedom to take the path that you want to. And the wisdom you gain along the way.”
“Freedom to make my own decisions., whether right or wrong, and the learning experience that comes from those choices.”
I think my friends have a lot better perspective on this whole “adulthood” than I do!
What do you think? Comment below and help me wrap my mind around this a bit more.