The journey from childhood to adulthood is made with little footsteps, scraped knees, loose teeth and big dreams. We don’t decide the day we’re ready to be an adult but rather we simply realize we are no longer a child.
One day, unbeknownst to us, was the last time we were carried in from the car while still sleeping, got excited about a happy meal from McDonalds, or waited anxiously for Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or the like.
The interesting thing about this journey is that it varies so widely from person to person. Some of us have very brief childhoods riddled with fear, abuse, hunger, and other circumstances that robbed us of our childlike wonder before we were truly ready to deal with the harsh realities of the world.
Others of us, settled into our role so seamlessly, that the years passed quicker with each grey hair and wrinkles formed before left our parent’s home. For a few of us, our best days seem like they were behind us, and the future’s promise looked bleak.
But whether a person feels that their childhood was too short, long, good, or bad, it is generally agreed that by the time we make any sort of conclusion regarding our own informative years, that they are indeed over. Adulthood is fully thrusted upon us, with or without, our permission.
My entrance exam into the local community college brought me to tears. I was 26 years old and tested into the lowest possible math level. A decade had passed since being diagnosed with dyslexia and I had been through so much life. The fact that I couldn’t do long division shook me to my core. I was capable of so much more – so why did I feel like I was failing adulthood?
The next few years brought with them their own unique challenges, but a common theme was a feeling of resentment for the young adults I went to classes with who seemed to gleefully glide through life. Whereas I was getting up at 3 am to work in a warehouse throwing boxes so I could have health insurance to get the help I needed to be physically able to get up at 3 am and throw boxes so I could attend school so I could find a better way through life.
My ego made unwelcomed appearances as I had a life story that validated my bad attitude and resentment. It was easy for me to blame my current circumstances on past events. I reasoned that if only I had ________ (fill in the blank with anything those chipper young students seemed to have, and I could assure you that if I had that too); life would be easier.
Life continued without me. While I was busy looking backwards, life was moving forward. Somehow, I found the motivation to carry on with my studies and slowly limped towards completing my degree, but I still felt that I was operating with only a few pages of the manual of life and that everyone around me had read the entire series.
Then, despite myself, I made a friend. At 26 years old, I made my first real friend. This person didn’t care where I came from or what had happened to me. They had just as many scars, both internal and external, as me. They were looking for connection and stumbled upon me, probably because I was too busy looking backwards, I didn’t realize I was in their way. Our accidental friendship taught me something I didn’t know I needed to learn. The key to intimate relationships is intimacy. The only way true intimacy is achieved is through vulnerability.
Then I made another friend. And another. And another. Before long, I had dozens of friends that seeped into every nook and cranny of my life. Suddenly, school seemed easy and each job I was offered was better than the last. Finally, my transition from childhood to adulthood was complete.
As soon as I was able to allow my inner self to shine through me instead of trying to cultivate it in isolation, I was able to see myself reflected off those I surrounded myself with and vice versa. I learned that not only is synergy a real, working concept, but how to implement it into my life in a meaningful way.
Today the people I share my life with are woven into my story. Interdependence, not independence paved the path for me to reach adulthood with some level of grace, albeit a bit tardy. I will remember that when awkwardness, shyness, even embarrassment strike, I should smile with joy that I am being vulnerable.