Leaning Into Adulthood

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Since when do I like going to bed at 10 pm?? Or waking up at 5 am to run, drink coffee, and read the paper before work? When did I start deriving satisfaction from doing personal chores?

I must be getting old, dude. Adulthood is a trip… and then some.

I turned 25 this year, so of course/I guess I’m an adult, but I sure don’t feel like it. Or, rather, I didn’t used to feel like it.

Then one day recently, I woke up bone-weary and stiff after a long day and little sleep. For the first time, my body wouldn’t bounce back after I pushed it too hard. No more functioning for daaaays on 4 hours of sleep after 16 hours of work and 4 hours of fun. Ha! Did I seriously used to pull that off? Ridiculous.

It’s not all about being tired, though. Experience is helping fill in the blanks. I’m answering questions I’ve had for a long time. Now there are places in my mind, body and psyche where all of this friction that’s happening from trying to move ideas around and turn ’em twist ’em rub ’em together supercollide ’em underground just to see what sticks and what doesn’t and what works and what doesn’t and why oh why oh why won’t it work… Well, it’s starting to come together.

Piece by piece, in the smallest transitory moments, I’m learning what I stand for. I’m finding that, when things don’t work out, I have solid ground under my feet. I may find that ground after falling down a large set of stairs and permanently denting my ass (true story), but hey, any kind of grounding experience is good, right?

In any case, I like this adulthood business. I like being responsible, having ownership over my work, and getting paid for it. I like being consistent, knowing myself and my processes well enough to love them, improve them, and play with their fundamental parts. I like being presented every day with new problems to solve, and I like that there’s no ‘right’ answer most of the time.

I also hate it. I hate feeling dejected and exhausted and with no one to rely on at the end of the day except myself. I hate having to sit in front of a computer screen all day while it’s gorgeous outside. I hate accidentally using professional jargon in casual conversations with friends.

But sometimes.. on a good day… when I’m paying attention and the wind is just right…

I fall in to wonder.

Amidst the amoebic maze of doubt, triumph, worry, passion, malaise, joy, and courage that is ‘our 20s’ — and life — I find myself completely, crushingly humbled by the work and sacrifices of the ‘real’ adults before me and around me. They propel families, markets, and communities– and I finally understand how insanely challenging and valuable that work is. Because I know they’re out there making it happen, I can find my way back from defeatism or loneliness, face any silly self-importance I may be harboring, and let it go.

Because really, it’s about the act of taking the big-kid steps, one-at-a-time, until we’ve tripped, balked, backtracked, and bounded enough to find our grown-in stride. Our grown-up stride, I suppose.

Oh shoot! Look at the clock. Well I guess it’s bedtime. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Word Wizard, and good luck to all the big kids out there… 😉

Cartoon from Poorly Drawn Lines.

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