When I was a child, I used to fantasize about being an adult. Being an adult, I thought, would solve all my problems. In middle school, it was a form of escapism. During the day, my escape from the taunts of the cruel girls I went to school with would be to keep my nose hidden in a book for the entire day. At night, I would close my eyes and imagine myself as beautiful. I would no longer have the dorky braces. I wouldn’t wear glasses. I would have long gorgeous hair and have a handsome boyfriend and lots of friends who adored me. Somehow in these daydreams, I would end up being famous too, usually as an actress. Even during my incredibly lonely days in college, I would envision adulthood as the ultimate escape. You can tell what a sheltered person I was by how unrealistic these visions of an idyllic adulthood were.
I remember the first time I felt like a real adult. It was January 26, 2008, one week after I had started my first job out of college and two weeks after I had moved to a big city all by myself. I had just been dropped off at my apartment by a police officer. Just an hour before, I’d gotten into an accident. I’d hit someone in a parking lot (and not at a slow rate of speed). I was just processing the shock of everything that had happened that afternoon – experiencing my very first accident and hearing the sickening sound of metal and glass breaking as my car collided with another, the airbag deploying on me and burning my arms, that terrible moment of sitting in my car and not knowing whether or not the person I hit was okay, the fear I felt when I saw him emerge from the car bleeding from the cuts that the broken glass had given him. Stubborn, I had refused to call anyone about the accident except for my parents because I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. After the police man dropped me off (my car was totaled, and I didn’t have a ride back to my apartment), I sat on the floor of my apartment, hugged my knees to my chest, and allowed myself to cry for the first time. I was lonely, saddened, and completely overwhelmed. All I wanted was a hug and for someone to tell me everything was going to be okay.
This is what I looked forward to when I was a kid? I remember thinking. Adulthood fucking sucks.
Gradually, as I experienced more of life, I grew more resilient and adulthood didn’t seem as daunting as it did that day. But every so often, something happens to remind me that, while adulthood can be incredibly rewarding, it can still really, really suck. I arrived to work this morning and found that a coworker I’d grown close to had left the company on Friday. I read the goodbye email from him this morning, explaining the circumstances and telling me what a bright future I had ahead of me. I couldn’t believe it. I kept looking at his empty office all day and feeling really bummed out. I called my mom during lunch to tell her how sad I was. It was not a hug but hearing her voice is equivalent to one.
Every so often, life hands you lessons that you can either learn from or ignore. In the past three years, I’ve learned resilience, the importance of hard work and a positive spirit, and the need to relinquish control. Just when you think you’ve got it down, another lesson is thrown at you to learn. I have a feeling this will be a recurring theme in my life.