On being an adult

Sometimes I look at my life and think “how did I get here?” and more specifically, “how did I get here SO FAST?!” At 25 I’ve been married for almost 2 years, I have a bachelors in chemical engineering which facilitated a good job in a well paying (if not volatile) field, we own a house, two cars, have two dogs, and a baby on the way. We pay taxes, a mortgage, utilities, health insurance, car insurance, homeowners insurance, tithing, and put a nice chunk of my salary into a 401K. Seeing it all listed out makes me look like such a responsible adult, which I suppose I am, most of the time. I guess I just thought it would feel different, like maybe I was expecting some sort of graduation ceremony where someone said “alright, now you’re a grown up.”

Maybe part of it is that growing up is comprised of such clear beginnings and endings. We start and end elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. Each of those takes a specified amount of time and (depending on how hard you work) you know when you can expect to be done. That isn’t true in the real world. There is no set amount of time to date before getting engaged, no set amount of time someone has to work before buying a house, no set amount of time you have to be married before having kids.

The same is true of ages growing up. At 16 you can get your drivers license, at 17 you can see R-rated movies without an adult, at 18 you can vote and buy cigarettes, at 21 you can legally drink. Again this isn’t true of other life events. There isn’t a law saying ok, now that you’re 24 you can buy a house, or now that you’re 26 you can have kids. Which is good; laws like that would be pretty ridiculous. They would be like the car rental companies who say “ok, now that you’re 25 we’re going to stop charging you an arm and a leg to rent a car,” because apparently at midnight on September 26th 2007 the driving skills fairy stopped by my house and turned me magically from a bad driver to a good one. Anyway…

I shouldn’t be surprised to be here. If someone had asked me at 15 where I would be in 10 years, my description probably wouldn’t have been too far off. In fact, at 15 I probably expected to get married younger and have kids earlier. Still, somehow the anticipation did not prepare me for the real thing. Like at my college graduation where I spent the entire time staring at my diploma thinking, “Really? I’m done? I don’t know enough to be an engineer!” (and also, “Man, good thing they spelled my name right.”) Maybe my problem is that I group things into “things that are happening now” and “things that will happen in the future” and then I fail to realize that this “future” gets closer every day. And I suppose that’s why it feels like I got here “so fast.”

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