There is no certificate for adulthood. As a kid, I always figured that once you reached a certain age, you just knew things. Like how to fix things when they’re broken, how to cook food for yourself, and what to do in every situation you face. I don’t know how I was supposed to learn all this, maybe a big book or a long conversation with my parents. Or maybe the government sent you a pair of sunglasses on your 18th birthday and all that knowledge was downloaded into your brain, Chuck style. If you don’t get that reference, that’s a shame, because it’s a good way to be entertained.
As a toddler, I always wanted to be a little older so I could stay up “late” with my sisters and play games with, well, the older kids. As a pre-teen, I wanted to be older so I could drive and play sports and have money to spend. Now, when I thought I’d have my life all planned out, I’d like to regress a bit to around my brother’s age, when all my needs are cared for and my biggest worry is who I get to play with next. Maybe I’m just a 9-year-old stuck in a 21-year-old’s body.
I’ll go ahead and confess that all this is rattling around in my brain because my sister, Blondie, just got married, and I just plain don’t feel old enough to be a brother-in-law. It feels weird just to give myself that label. Then there’s my 21st birthday, which occurred this past April. According to most folks, this is an absurdly exciting day, as it’s when I can legally drink alcohol and gamble. But again, these activities don’t fit with my definition of leisure time, or even what I should be allowed to do. I also believe that if I’ve survived for 21 years without either activity, I should be okay for at least another 80.
However, 21-year-old me feels like I still have the knowledge and skills of a teenager, so why should I be deciding the course of the rest of my life (i.e. grad school? year-long road trip? get a teaching job? stay at the carwash? to name a few questions that frequently come up)? It turns out that all those people I’ve looked up to my whole life face some of the same questions and fears and concerns I do, but as an adult, you just handle it. My dad didn’t know how to act while participating in his first wedding as a father, my mom still has to look up recipes online, my grandparents sometimes struggle to keep abreast with news among the family and what the daily plans are. The thing of it is, none of us have a playbook to read or consult, and we’re all just muddling along, making the best decisions we can based on what information we have. So here’s to the dark, foreboding future, and being a help and example to each other as we walk on.