On Being an Adult

July 13, 2008

Last weekend, during my sister’s visit, I had an ‘aha!’ moment. While we were attempting to find our way to a nice place to view the Fourth of July fireworks, we hit a road block: we had no idea where we were going. That’s usually not a good place to be when you have a time limit (luckily, we had a good few hours to figure out the location of the fireworks).

While we wandered around, it hit me: this was it. This was the moment I realized I was an adult. There’s no one to turn to for answers. It was just the two of us, slightly disoriented, trying to figure out where to go. We’d turn to the other, looking confused and feeling exasperated, and we didn’t have the answers.

There were moments like this all throughout the weekend. Which leads me to think this wasn’t so much about realizing that I’m an adult as much as realizing that my sister is an adult (which you would have thought I’d figured out a few years ago, but I’m a slow-study). She took charge of things, made decisions, and generally moved things forward the entire time. In my world, that’s something that parents do. Maybe it’s because this was my first ‘vacation’ sans parents, but that kind of hit me hard.

And all of this got me to thinking: which world is better, the world of child or the world of adult? Both have their perks: as a kid, all the messy stuff gets swept aside, and you only see the nice, ribboned final decisions. You just have to follow along, trusting that the adults know what they’re doing. But as an adult, you lose this certainty, instead gaining the privilege of getting to make those same decisions that before fell on the adults.

I guess the biggest shock for me is how different the two sides feel. When adults make the decisions, as a kid, it seems like the process takes no effort. We don’t see inside their minds, we can’t see them weighing the options, considering and worrying and fretting. As an ‘adult’ (I’m still a little slow to apply that label to myself… I don’t feel grown up), we have to do all that decision making on our own. Suddenly, all the internal processes that were previously hidden come to the fore. The illusion is lost. Life is hard. And decisions take effort.

Luckily, to wrap the introductory story up, my sister and I called our mom to ask for directions to the place we needed to get to. It turns out that even as adults, we can still fall back on our parents.

:P

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