Adulting is hard. As I’ve seen all the “back to school” posts today, I’m aware that I really miss those days! Sometimes I wish I could go back to the carefree years when the most difficult decision I had to make was what to eat for breakfast. Today, when my friends’ kids were going back to school, I was checking off my to-do list: laundry, return phone calls, for the love – please finally clean up your office, pay bills… Seriously?!? I want to go back to school and receive notes like, “You obviously did not read the chapter assigned for review.” (Told you I was cleaning up my office).
Nowadays, instead of being graded on music theory and sight reading, I’m being called upon to be an adult: to think, act, accept responsibility and believe as an adult, as one “who is fully grown or developed or of age” (according to dictionary.com). Some days I find this easier said than done. There are parts of this adult thing I get – I don’t necessarily like – but I get. Paying my own bills, making sure my dog and I have proper nutrition and health care, going to work on time, being a responsible citizen, paying taxes, etc. – these things I understand and can do without much consternation. But, the adult relationship stuff – hard. Being respectful of and willing to listen to opposite viewpoints – hard. Addressing conflict – hard. Owning my story (all of it: my privilege, my perfectionism, my heartbreak) – hard. Building bridges – hard. Allowing for what will be – hard.
Being an adult is hard, and yet, I am an adult. And I find myself in situations in which I am called upon to think, act, accept responsibility and believe as an adult who has been taught to love my neighbor, to reach out to those who are marginalized, to care for the vulnerable, to engage in dialogue and to look for ways to bridge the gaps in broken structures.
Hard – especially when the marginalized and vulnerable look so much like people I’ve learned to fear or judge. Hard – especially when my neighbor’s truck is covered with bumper stickers that make my stomach turn. Hard – when dialogue requires me to shut up and listen, really listen. Hard – when a structure seems so broken as not to have any hope of repair. Hard – when I have to examine my own part in perpetuating what is broken.
Adulting is hard because it often means choosing the hard thing: kindness over criticism, action over indifference, silence over insistence. Adulting means not always being right, making room for other viewpoints and perspectives, allowing the experiences of others to matter even when we don’t understand them. Ugh…
Being an adult is hard, but as adults functioning in community, we’re given the opportunity – no, the responsibility – to behave civilly and maturely with those whom we encounter. We’re called upon to work together to build community in places where opinions differ, where ideologies and platforms are as diverse as the number of people present. We’re called on to be community in the unlikeliest of places and in desperately troubling times.
I do miss the days when I didn’t think so much about what made people different. I miss innocently formed friendships based on chosen seats or alphabetically ordered desks. I miss relishing the excitement of learning and being stretched by new ideas and differing opinions. And, yet, I’m aware that with the right attitude and intention, I can “go back to school” too. I can approach life and relationships with an open mind and open heart, ready to learn, ready to hear, ready to explore.
Adulting is hard, but I am an adult. Good thing I get to choose what kind of adult I will be.