When I was younger, I spent a vast majority of my time dreaming about how my life would be when I was “all grown up.” Adulthood shone like a bright beacon of hope and fulfillment. If I could just reach it, I would suddenly know everything there was to know about anything. I’d be happy. I could go where I wanted when I wanted. I wouldn’t be stuck in any one place; if I wanted to move all I would have to do is pack my shit and leave. Everything seemed so simple.
Now I’m that age I thought would be so brilliant, so fantastical and things are different here.
There’s, of course, a lot more responsibility than I’d previously accounted for. I knew I’d have to get a job, but I always envisioned myself writing in a small house by the sea and magically having enough money to live off of. For an extended period of time, I wanted to study marine biology and swim with dolphin; this was probably the most rational thing I’ve ever wanted to do. At least it would’ve led to job security. But, I was mostly in it for the swimming with dolphins bit. But, financial issues are never as simple as they seem when you’re a child; they tend to be more complex clusterfucks of “what can I pay now?” and “do I have enough money for this?”
The largest discrepancy between childhood beliefs and reality isn’t money, though. The largest difference between what I thought adulthood would give me and what I actually have lies in happiness. In expectation.
This isn’t to say I’m not considerably happier than I was as a child; I am. I’m a much more confident and stable human being. That doesn’t mean I have any clue what I’m doing, though. As a general rule of thumb, I like to assume I have no clue how things will end up a day, month, year from now. But, I thought I would. At the age of thirteen, I couldn’t wait until I was eighteen, until I was twenty-one, because I would have everything figured out then. I would know how I was and I would have everything I wanted (re: a castle). Well, I’m going on twenty-four and I’m still learning who I am and still waiting on my castle.
There’s a general misconception that once you reach a certain age, suddenly everything will make sense. You’ll know what you’re supposed to do, where you’re supposed to do it, and what you’ll need to do to get there. You’d magically have everything you need at all times. It would all work out okay. We expect certain things out of adulthood. The things we get, oftentimes, are not the things we expect. This isn’t always a bad thing, though it can be a hard thing.
I assumed that adulthood would somehow rid me of all my insecurities. That doesn’t happen, of course. We don’t just wake up one morning and love ourselves. It takes time and a hell of a lot of effort. It’s been a slow process. This may be because I had to completely rewire what I thought to be true, or it may be because of the experiences I’ve gone through, the things I’ve done or said.
I don’t know when it became so deeply ingrained in me that adults knew what they were doing, when growing up became synonymous with happiness. I’ve still got some rewiring to do. It’s comforting, now, to know that many people my age face the same struggles as me. Constant influxes of articles are being published stating how those in their twenties have no clue what’s going on half the time. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one trying to bridge this gap between expectation and reality.
Here’s to hoping it all makes sense by the time I’m thirty.