What They Don’t Tell You About Adulting

There is nothing simple about ‘adulting’. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. We discuss ‘growing up’ like there is a magic drink you begin sipping junior year college, (like a protein shake for good decisions) After enough repetition things will definitely fall into place. Definitely is operative, because it’s on you to believe in the power of your dreams (or the things people told you you were going to do, even if they are not what you are truly interested in. )

I don’t care about that anymore. I don’t want to hear about what could be. I want to talk about what is.
What this is,  is  messy. I’m unsure if it’s because I turned 25 this year, or a general sense of confusion that immediately follows adolescence, but whatever it is, it’s viscerally uncomfortable. I feel everything.

Pressure. Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. The price tag associated with ‘success’. Too many emails.Meetings that should be phone calls.The cycle of looking at someone’s Instagram and secretly wanting what they have, but having much pride to admit you do it more often than you don’t. A vision board that feels more like a ‘what if’, but you already read the article on the power of setting one up, (and shared it on Twitter), so you can’t not make one. You just watched a lecture on consistency on Wednesday.

We are all changing, becoming experts in our own lives. Oftentimes that growth isn’t in sync with the people we thought would be around us, and in what seems like an instant, friends become strangers. They left that out of the pamphlet, too.

Owning what you know is therefore an imperative, and a necessity. It looks and feels different for all of us, which is what makes it incredibly special. Maybe that’s also what scares me. Giving what I have, when I’m not sure if I have anything that people might value. The amount of confidence necessary to actually be who you are meant to be, is proportional to the risks you’re willing to take. If you aren’t going to bet on you, than none of those matters.

No one has this figured out. If they say they do, they are lying. Most likely to themselves, and probably to you. Growth is iterative. It happens in waves and stages, and does not care about if we are ready or not. It is a choice. We position ourselves in a space to accept it. Nourish it. Anticipate it’s coming. Engage with it. Understand that it will be difficult. Uncomfortable. Painful. It should never be easy, and it certainly won’t leave you the same. There isn’t a magic elixir.

I thought there was though. I’ve taken notes on people deemed to be successful. I’ve paid attention to the gems they’ve left behind. But there is a limit to what I’ve been able to see, because unsuccessful years never make highlight reels. Rejected email pitches rarely make celebratory blog posts.

People talk about the late nights and early mornings, but when you’re inside them, you don’t have time to talk. There is only room for execution.

Perfection is the house that fear occupies, and always invites you over for drink after a long day. It’s got big pillars in the front, with giant archways of excuses. There are big bay windows that overlook acres of possibilities, with no end in sight. You can’t go outside though, because the grass isn’t quite finished yet, there’s a shed still being built, and the base for the guest house hasn’t been laid yet. Don’t worry though, it’ll happen soon. Other houses in the neighborhood are actively under construction, or being remodeled. This one will look the same forever, because the owner hasn’t quite found the perfect builders.

I’ve looked around a bit, and I didn’t like what I observed. I want more from my time, and the effort I put forward. I don’t have any interest in a conventional life, much less a career. I know more people who have not even begun to unearth who they are supposed to be yet, and are passive characters in their own stories. It breaks my heart. I used to ask myself why they don’t speak more. The better question is why haven’t I tried to help them do it?

Leaders go first.  They hack through the brush, with understanding that they may encounter all kinds of obstacles, enemies, and sinkholes along the way. Legacies are defined by impact. Recognition is simply byproduct.It’s hard to come by, but once we feel it, it lingers, and no amount of accolades, promotions, or awards can trump it.

That’s the price of admission to do the unthinkable. Success is cool, but it’s often only a placeholder for what will always trump it; significance.

Maybe I wanted to play small at first. It’s easier. Perhaps I conflated humility with self-deprecation, and never learned the difference. Or maybe, I had too many examples of people who had limitless potential, but never got a chance explore it, didn’t believe it was possible, so they settled. Someone told them their limits, and they believed it. Their ceiling wasn’t simply glass, it became opaque, and they never saw that it was nothing more than an illusion. That is a level of pain I don’t know how to articulate. It can only be felt.

As a person who enjoys planning everything, this process is unnerving. As someone who does believe they are limitless, it’s also liberating. I don’t have to worry about if I can do something. I just need to start with when I do it. I need to actualize the things that occupy space in my mind, and never leave. I will make them real. By any means necessary. There is no more asking for permission to be engaging, or tip-toeing around what I’ve always been able to do. There is movement, or nothing at all.

It's the feeling of intense loneliness that accompanies a vision that only you can see. It’s exhilarating and petrifying.

I’m in the middle of something special. It feels daunting, but there is a weight attached to it. You probably have it too, when you start taking steps towards the things you told yourself you’d be in private, but never declared out loud. Some things we have to protect with our silence, others we shield with our voices. Learning the difference might take a lifetime.

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  • MissSuccess

    Fave line “we are all changing, becoming experts in our own lives.”