Updated: Apr 16, 2020
Sometimes, and most usually at night, this question sneaks up on me:
How does the world around me believe I am an adult?
Most days lately it feels like I am a kid who somehow managed to sneak out of my parents house and run far enough to convince everyone that I know what I’m doing. I feel like a baby in an adult world and sometimes I can’t believe that my parents just let me up and leave one day, that they considered me grown enough to do that, to move out, to get a job, start paying my own bills, and just live away from them. I can’t believe they let me haul my ass across the world to a new country on a new continent because I fell in love with a boy that I met in high school who I thought hung the moon in the sky.
Most days lately I feel like a baby adult. I’ll be in my car in traffic with the windows up or down (depending on what Wisconsin decided to do with the weather on that particular day) with music blasting and suddenly my mind will jump out in front of the car holding up a stop sign: “Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Where do you think you’re going?” I’ll slam on the brakes and feel a familiar tingle of anxiety in the pit in my stomach and I’ll wave it out of the way and pretend I know what I’m doing until it lets me pass.
For example, the other day I was given a dresser from my uncle. It’s the perfect size for my current room and I took it home and painted it the color of the water I dipped my feet in in Switzerland. After I finished that project I worked on painting the trim in the living room of my apartment because our landlord had dropped off a couple gallons for us to cover up the ugly brown with a crisp white that really lightened the space up. All in all it was a productive day, and at the end of it I realized I had called my mom 3 different times, just to tell her what I was doing and talk about the color I had chosen.
I spent 12 months from August 2018-August 2019 living in Berlin alone. Among the many things that happened while I was there, I also travelled to three other countries, alone and with friends. I didn’t come home once during those 12 months and I didn’t see either of my parents until my mom came to visit the last two weeks I was there to help me pack up and move home. I felt older then than I do now. I felt more able as a newly 20 year old living with strangers in a foreign country built on a different language than I do now, older and wiser in a city 2 hours from my hometown in my home country living with two of my best friends.
Was I more able because I was forced to be? Was I unwavering in my belief in myself to accomplish what needed to be done because there was no other option? Here, life moves slower. Things can take days or weeks to get moving. There, I had deadline after deadline. Whether that was getting my visa in time or the correct insurance or simply to a day of class and back, everything was faster paced, and everything was sink or swim, and frankly I had no choice in whether or not I got shit done because I just had to. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I felt so big and brave. Sometimes I think that’s why and other days I don’t, and mostly I just wonder if the pace I’ve slowed down to now and the questions in my mind are healthier than constantly running so fast, or if I’m somehow unable to accomplish what I could when I was there.
Growing up is so fucking strange, and it’s so far from linear. It’s all over the place and up and down and back forth. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and sometimes it’s two back, and sometimes it’s simply stagnant, unable to move at all because the world is showing you things you never thought you’d have to see. Mostly growth is intangible, and mostly we have no choice in it. Whether or not you want to believe it, change is the only constant, and all I can really expect of myself is to trust where I’m going (however off track it may seem right now) and to keep writing about it.