I went for a run yesterday evening on the bike path in Middleport. I typically begin my Middleport runs at Dave Diles Park by heading toward Dairy Queen. As I approached the curve in the path near Dairy Queen, I noticed a small, rectangular mirror laying off to the side of the path, and it was broken. The first thought that crossed my mind was something to the effect of, “That’s a really good place for that. There are probably kids around here who will pick it up and play with the broken glass.” The thought that immediately followed was, “Wow… that was a very ‘adult’ thing to say.”
I turned around at Dairy Queen and continued back down the path, passing the mirror again. After probably around the one-mile mark in my run, I passed an older gentleman (probably in his eighties) who was walking his dog. I continued running around various streets in Middleport and eventually made my way back to the path for the end of my run. Here, I passed the same older gentleman again. In addition to holding his dog’s leash, he was also carrying the broken mirror. I realized he must’ve had a similar thought to mine… that a kid would pick it up and play with it… or maybe someone wouldn’t see it and accidentally step on it or something.
I thought a lot about my initial reaction to the mirror over the course of my run, and I thought to myself, “When did I become an adult?” Yes, I realize I’m about to turn 30 and I’ve “technically” been an adult for several years. But when did I make the transition from the kid who might do stupid and potentially dangerous things to the “responsible adult” who automatically assumes if a kid can do stupid and potentially dangerous things, he probably will? When did I become the person who thinks along the same lines as an 80-year old man?
There are several aspects of my life that fit into the regular happenings and responsibilities of adulthood. I have a real, grown-up job. I have bills to pay. I have a car that’s paid off but is now needing some repairs. I cook my own meals. If I do go out, I don’t want to stay out too late because I have to get up early or because I’m mentally exhausted and need to relax. I now consider “sleeping in” being able to sleep until about 8 a.m. The final nail in the coffin is catching myself more and more acting/reacting like my parents do/would in certain situations and resigning to the fact that that’s unavoidable. Regardless of having all of those things, I can’t point to a particular time, a specific turning point where a switch flipped and I thought, “Yes, I’m now an adult,” because most days I still don’t feel like a real adult. Most days, I feel I’m faking my way through adulthood.
Like most kids, I had a perception of what adulthood would be and I guess it took me by surprise when that perception didn’t turn into a reality. For the end of my teens and for a good portion of my 20’s, I considered myself to be a late bloomer. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life regarding a career when everyone else already seemed to have their career path figured out. I was still holding on to my V-Card when everyone else seemed to have lost their virginity in high school or the very beginning of college. I really started questioning my sexuality after undergrad when most of the LGBT people I met up to that point were already out and had come out during high school.
Because of these reasons, I often refer to my years of undergrad as my “high school years” because I experienced all the things that most people, in my mind, seem to experience during high school. My actual high school experience wasn’t really that difficult from what I remember. There were the occasional struggles, but I never really struggled with my grades. I didn’t cuss. I never drank. I never tried any kind of drugs. I never had sex with any of my girlfriends. All the years of anti-drug assemblies that tried to scare us into not doing any of those things worked on me, as well as being engrained from a young age that I wasn’t supposed to have sex until I was married. I never did these things because I was afraid of getting into trouble. Now when I hear some of my students talk about these things, my typical response is that I was a goody two-shoes in high school, which they respond with something along the lines of, “Yeah, I can see that.”
Now that my twenties are almost over, I’ve realized the feeling of being a late bloomer is much more common amongst people, and the entire concept of being a late bloomer is also pretty stupid, for lack of a better word. Everyone experiences things differently. My life and my journey isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s. Things don’t always happen the way you picture them, and that’s okay. While this idea was stewing in my brain during my run yesterday evening, I thought of a quote from one of my favorite books, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is as follows:
“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”
I’ve visited this quote from time to time, but it really struck me yesterday. With the responsibilities of teaching taking up a great deal of my time, I don’t always have enough time to pursue other things I want to. I’m trying to establish a steady writing routine, but a lot of the time I’m mentally exhausted after school. I usually just want to come home, zone out, and recharge for the next day; the last thing I want to do is come home from a long day at work and spend several more hours working. But as much as I want to go back to simpler times when I had more free time to hang out with my friends and do enjoyable things whenever I want, I can’t… because that’s not my life anymore.
I’ve come to the conclusion that faking my way through adulthood translates to pretending I have my life figured out. While certain aspects of adulthood sneaked up on me, I’ve been waiting over the last couple years of my twenties to enter the period of adulthood where I have things figured out… but it has yet to come.
After arriving at Donkey Coffee this morning, I came across this video in my Facebook newsfeed, which perfectly aligned with this post and solidified what I needed to write about right now.
Maybe I’ll cross a line sometime in the near future that will solidify my idea of being a true adult. Maybe I’ll buy a house. Maybe I’ll meet someone and get married. Maybe I’ll have kids. Maybe I’ll be more secure in my knowledge and abilities as a teacher. Maybe I’ll finally embrace being a fully functioning, grown-up member of today’s society. But for now, I suppose I’ll stay here with all of the other fakers out there, young and old, who feel they have no idea what they’re doing and are open to whatever might happen in their life when it’s the right time for it to happen, which in reality is probably a much bigger group than any one of us even imagines.
I’ll close this post with another quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower that seems to fit this post perfectly. This book has already influenced me in so many ways, and I think it’s time for me to read it again so I can learn something else new this time around.
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”