A wise woman once told me an interesting story about growing up, about going to college, graduating and receiving a masters in teaching, and about her first few months of teaching. She described the thoughts running through her head as she stood in front of her high school students, she realized that all of these teenagers expected her to know what she was talking about to have answers, to have it pulled together and her colleagues did too. Yet, on the inside she still felt like a little girl, not a day past twelve and in a way I think that’s exactly how we all feel.
As a little girl I always thought “Wow, when I’m sixteen my life is going to be perfect.” I figured that by the time I’d reached high school I’d easily have a pink convertible, a closet full of incredible ball gowns, and obviously a cool job working at Limited Too (where every teenage girl wants to work right) (NOT Justice, LIMITED TOO). Well right before my eyes 5 turned to 6 which turned to 10 which turned to 13 and then one morning I woke up and I was 16 and even though that same wise aunt was whisking me off to the Caribbean for my sweet 16 my life was nowhere near what I had envisioned it to be. I could barely sit in the driver’s seat of a car without bursting into tears and there was no way I would be getting my greedy little hands on a pink convertible anytime soon…sorry bout it.
At 16 I dreamed of college. Somehow graduating from high school and moving onto college signified growing up in my mind like there was suddenly some sort of magical transformation when I threw that white little cap into the air and TA-DA I would instantly know the person I should be and just as suddenly become her. Yah right…I barely knew how to do my own laundry and had yet to discover how write a check, pay rent, etc, etc. No need to mention that Jeff just taught me how to open an umbrella by myself less than a week ago (I live in Seattle people, think about this). I’m not a grown up.
My first few nights in my college dorm room were HORRIFYING!!! What was this strange place? Why were all of these girls so loud and why did the ones on the floor above me seem to play soccer in their room all night? What should I wear during recruitment (looking back…ugh…why did I wear that during recruitment?) How do I not know how to paint my own nails? Why is it so difficult to learn to french braid your own hair via youtube? If I can’t EVEN learn how to french braid my own hair HOW WILL I EVER MAKE IT THROUGH COLLEGE? I didn’t feel grown up, I felt more childish than ever and I had no idea why and suddenly that conversation with my Aunt from years before all made sense to me.
There won’t ever be a “Magical Moment” when all of my childish fears and doubts and insecurities are washed away, instead it’s small moments and lessons….like learning to open an umbrella, preparing a new meal, and mastering how to thread my sewing machine. These lessons, no matter how little and insignificant are the moments that help me to feel like I DO know what I’m doing (I can finally manage this rain) and help me to simultaneously realize that maybe no one is really the “perfect” grown up we envision when we’re small.
That being said, here are a few things I think I can rightfully hope for in order to achieve “grown-up” status in my book:
1. When I grow up I will always hang up my wet towels and NEVER leave them on the floor (Jeff is wishing I could check this one off my list right now).
2. When I grow up I will brush my teeth every night before bed, even if I’m really really tired and my comforter is really really warm.
3. When I grow up I’ll have a walk in closet AND a claw foot bath tub.
4. When I grow up I’ll wear red lipstick without looking like the joker.
5. When I grow up I will actually take all of those “dry clean” only clothes to the dry cleaner instead of machine washing them…or just never washing them.
6. When I grow up I will throw in quotes from classic literature into everyday conversation.
7. When I grow up I will hang up art in my home not just collages and pictures of myself (with other people of course, I’m not some narcissistic freak).
8. When I grow up I will send Birthday cards NOT belated birthday cards.
9. When I grow up I will host a midnight masquerade party in which everyone wears actual ball gowns.
10. When I grow up I won’t get crazy anxiety about making phone calls to make dentist appointments, pay a bill, order a pizza (and I won’t even have to write down what I’m going to say either).
I’m going to leave you with a quote that I think is pretty powerful:
“It’s the Oldest story in the world. One day you’re seventeen and planning for someday. And then, quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today, and that someday is yesterday and this is your life” -Nathan Scott
What do you think? What does being a grown up mean to you?