Did you ever hear the term “Imposter Syndrome”? Because that’s basically me, at this point. I’m turning 24 next Wednesday, so you might suppose I’ve got this whole adulting thing down. I mean, I’ve got 3 Masters’, for crying out loud! I’m basically right on track! But still, I feel as if at any point now, someone’s going to look at me, and see right through it all. “No,” they’ll say, “you don’t have a clue what you’re doing.” And as far as adulting goes, they really wouldn’t be wrong.
So here’s a quick question: what exactly does it mean to be an adult? There’s a couple of ways you can check.
The first option is someone who is legally an adult – in Belgium that’s 18. That would mean I’ve been an adult for 6 years – but let’s be real. Putting an arbitrary number on something as life-altering as the concept of being an “adult”? Not really that trust worthy.
The second option is looking up the term in a dictionary – one of the most common synonyms you’ll come across is “grown up”. Again, physically, I guess I am all “grown up”. You know, I stopped getting taller at about the same time as I stopped wearing braces, so there’s that. But again – isn’t that a bit arbitrary?
A third option takes into account 5 (sociological?) criteria – someone who has moved out of their house, who is financially independent, and so on and so forth. I guess, according to those criteria, I’m not an adult yet. As soon as I get a job, though, I basically am. Again: not something that seems to ring true to me.
Which means, basically, that there’s no definition of adulting that feels like I’m anywhere near reaching it.
When I talked about being grown-up “physically” for that second option, that wasn’t a random choice. In what feels like 98% of all cases, people tend to talk about being an adult as something physical or material. The problem I’m currently having with that, is that the physical and the mental don’t always match up.
I mean, you can hit your growth spurt months or even years after you mentally start to enter puberty. You can be in your 30s, making the big bucks, and still act like a child half of the time.
Quite often, people talk about the Peter Pan syndrome, the need to stay a child, as something very negative. The problem with that, I think, is that it puts too much of an emphasis on becoming an adult as the only right option.
Guess what? I’m not okay with that. For starters, it makes absolutely no sense, because nobody seems to be able to give me a definition of adulting that has anything to do with the mental domain. Second of all, that seems like a dangerous precedent to set.
You know that phrase about “too much of a good thing”? Well, I happen to think that’s probably the truest truth to have ever been truth-ed. (And yes, I’m well aware that sentence was a grammatical Frankenstein’s Monster, but bear with me here). The thing that terrifies me most about that whole adulting thing, is that people make it out to be a total change of perspective. One day you’re a child, the next you’re not, the end. And supposedly, the day you graduate? That’s the day that transition is to reach the “you’re not”-stage.
Yeah, so how about we don’t do that.
Sure, there’s some things that need doing, I know that – the bills won’t pay themselves, and a job also keeps you from having to spend all your time on the sofa. That’s just not good for my mental health. And of course, that means I’ll also have to figure out how taxes actually work (seriously, why don’t they offer classes on that in high school??). But please, can I also still be allowed to like Full House? To fangirl about Harry Potter?
Can it be okay that I feel completely inadequate and ill-prepared, because, quite frankly, don’t most of us feel that way?
(And seriously, if you have any tips on how to do this whole adulting-thing? Let me know below!)