Friday, October 19, 2012


A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend about my age, and we were discussing all the stuff we do every day that gives that "wow, I guess I'm an adult" sensation.  We're young enough that we still have occasional flashes of feeling like adolescents impersonating grown-ups, and perhaps we even flatter ourselves a bit that we are so youthful as to be mistaken for mere pups still wet behind the ears.  (In my case, these latter sensations are intensified by being the youngest member of my department.)  But, when we're honest with ourselves, we admit that we have been adults for a while now, even if we don't always feel like it.

Why wouldn't I feel like an adult, aside from being younger than my colleagues?  As my friend and I agreed, it was the sense that we didn't necessarily know the right or best thing to do in a given situation, and we just had to do the best we could to make it up as we went along.  I'm still in shock at the realization that this, in fact, is what everyone does.  No one really knows what they're doing.  Everyone is making it up as they go along.

My friend and I also agreed that this realization had a much more unsettling implication for us: all those adults that we looked up to when we were children, who seemed eternally ready for anything and infallibly knowledgeable about everything important, were actually doofuses just like us making it up as they went along.  I mean, jeez, when my parents were my age, I knew them!  Knowing that my parents were neither more knowledgeable nor wiser than I am now, when they seemed to know everything, gives me an almost terrifying feeling of how fragile and fallible the whole world truly is.

This makes me feel simultaneously better and worse about how I'm navigating my way through some heavy unbloggable stuff relating to my family.  I really dislike wading into situations in which I don't know what I should do, especially when there are real consequences for a number of people no matter what I choose to do.  But, at least, I'm no worse off than anyone else.


  1. Exactly!

    What a shock I had when I realized that my parents were (and the surviving one still is) not really sure of things and not necessarily wise or right about anything.

    Most of us are sort of faking it, and the people who seem most sure probably shouldn't be.

  2. I think being a real adult involves exactly this -- finding out how completely deceived you've been by the seemingly omniscient "adults" you grew up with. Nobody knows what they're doing. It's comforting to know that you aren't the only one trying to figure it out. To me, anyway.

  3. I don't know what I'm doing, either. I can't believe that at my age, my mom was the mother of a 7 year old and a 4 year old. She's smart, but holy on earth did they do it?

    All this time we look forward to knowing everything, only to get to adulthood and find out it was all a sham. Depressing, I tell ya.