I recently started reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants to, you know, get inspiration for my memoir. In it she recalls being asked during a workshop When Did You First Know You Were a Woman? Tina said that the majority of responses from the two hundred plus women at the workshop were moments “when some dude had done something nasty to them.” If I were to open that question up to all individuals, When Did You First Know You Were an Adult? I wonder what trends we would see. Not sure I’d actually want to find out because I think it would just make me sad. Men would probably have overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) positive experiences. Trans individuals would probably have very positive experiences as well, but that would not blot out a former lifetime of bad ones.
I think one of the first times I felt like an adult was when my mom came to my room after having met with a financial advisor or attorney or consultant or someone who told us we had no money and cried into my shoulder that we’d have to sell the house. There were other moments when time shifted a little around me, the day my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the day we put him in a nursing home, the day I felt my first heartbreak, the day a man I’d voted for became my president, but that day with my mom was different. It represented a loss of innocence and an increase in responsibility. One that I felt came too soon, but maybe that’s just the way life works. Maybe adulthood sneaks up on you and sets in when you’re not looking.
Then again, I am 22, I live with my mom, I enjoy Disney movies, dance breaks, ice cream, coloring books, and I work with kids. Today one of my students asked me a question, to which I responded, “This kid!” and she promptly told me “You’re not a kid!” The truth is I feel like one. And I am in many ways. I watched Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts (have you noticed most of my ideas come from pop culture?) and one of the lines that stuck with me was when Josh’s recently-retired professor/mentor confessed that “Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.” I think that’s probably true. Or at least that none of us feel as old as we thought we’d feel when we reached a certain age. When I was in high school, I thought I’d have everything figured out by the time I graduated college. I think when I’m thirty I’ll still feel like a novice in most things, when I’m forty I won’t feel over the hill, when I’m sixty I’ll still feel too young to retire, and when I’m eighty I’ll still want my mom to make me soup when I’m sick.