When I was six, I loved dressing up in my mom’s old maxi dresses, stuffing my chest to pretend I had breasts, and walk around in plastic high-heels, pretending to be a real woman. When I was sixteen, the freedom of wind in my hair driving old country roads alone was incomparable – I was finally independent, minus an 11 p.m. curfew. When I graduated from college, degree-ed and certified employable, I just knew I’d find a job eventually. I couldn’t wait to have my own little place in my oversized city, eating Ramen, and making ends meet.
I’ve always wanted to be an adult. Except now that I am one.
And some of those things – like having real ladies that fill out dresses and real high-heels that are significantly more delicate than the chunky, plastic ones, are great. I indulge in my curves, I celebrate being a woman, and though I’m not high-maintenance, I’m quite girly. The state of North Carolina, my family, my friends, and pedestrians are overjoyed I don’t drive anymore, but I get the same sense of autonomy when I navigate the city without looking at a map or Googling. And of course, the fact that I’m happier than I’ve ever been, living completely, 110 percent on my own, makes me proud of the path I picked for myself.
But then there are the things about being an adult that no one tells you about.
Like these really difficult, emotionally-draining choices you have to make. The really sticky ones that have awful consequences but in the grand scheme of things, are best for you – even if at the time, when your vision is blurred with mascara tears, you can’t see it. It’s those decisions that you have to remove yourself from, tug at your heart-strings so they loosen enough for you to be realistic, and stand firm in your resolution, even when those heels are shaking and your heart is about to burst into open air from your chest.
Maybe we’re not warned of these difficult decisions because they don’t come around often. They really aren’t all that common, but when they come, they arrive with vengeance. They burst into your everyday, ordinary existence and demand you pay attention to them – stealing you from any other task, every other priority, and get you to the edge of tears in the middle of the afternoon.
But that’s when you reach into your adult tool belt to find your gumption, your pride, and your big girl panties. You swallow that pride in one swift gulp, gather all the gumption you can build, and put on those panties with a mission – you won’t be upset, no, not right now, not today. You’ll make the adult-like decision to avoid the worse –even if it is imminent – until you absolutely, positively have to deal with it.
You’ll distract yourself with long to-do lists that include things you’ll never actually do like clean out the junk drawer and dust the corners of your apartment. And then you’ll overexert yourself into your social life, planning and making happy hour dates, going to dinner and events, spending money you don’t have out of purses you saved for years to buy. You’ll pick up a new project or come up with great entrepreneurial ideas, but never write business plans, and leave the pieces of the masterpiece scattered about your homes until they ultimately end up right back in that junk drawer you never cleaned out.
Avoidance is a vicious circle. And avoidance is very adult like.
If you ignore a problem or a rough-and-tough, life-altering, plan-changing, dream-killing decision with an outcome you just don’t want to face – it’ll eventually go away. The adult, mature thing to do is to believe as such. The adult thing to do is to focus more on pushing our boobs up with push-ups, renting fancy cars for weekend getaways with Zipcar, and dreaming of the day when we’ll be grown up enough to avoid things better than we pretend to do now.