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The first time I saw it, I was five years old.
My mother was crying at the edge of the sofa, forehead resting on her hand, and my dad was standing by the kitchen window, arms crossed and looking outside at nothing in particular.
My mom wouldn’t respond to me, and my dad would only answer, “Go to your mother.”
I went to sleep that night, never knowing what had happened, and it was then I realized: my parents weren’t perfect.
As a teenager, coming home from church on Saturday nights, my mom would talk about the people in the congregation. She would criticize everyone and compare them to herself, and I wondered how she could be so nice to people who she didn’t really like.
I wondered if her kindness was genuine and she told me that when I was a grown-up, I would understand.
When I was in high school, I thought about what my life would look like at 20.
I thought about the degree I would have almost earned, the job I would have, the apartment I would live in, the car I would drive, the friendships I would form, and most of all, my accomplishments. I would have finished high school at the top of my class, and I would, of course, be top of my class in college too.
These were the things that would catapult me into the world of adulthood that I so longed to be a part of.
Then, at 20, I had an identity crisis.
Nothing had gone how I wanted it to, and I felt even more like a child than I had in high school. Adults have their life together and I, quite frankly, did not.
I realized, then, that along with my parents not being perfect, life wasn’t perfect, and that being an adult is messy. My mom—someone I’d looked up to—wasn’t who I thought she was.
She didn’t have it all together. My mom is elegant and lights up a room when she smiles. She’s also just a person. A messy, flawed person.
It would take me years of depression, a heavy dose of introspection, and a lot of reading to come to terms with who I was and, more importantly, to realize that adulthood is a lie.
This idea that after you reach a certain point in your life, are X years old, or have had X experiences, you are now an adult, is rubbish.
It insinuates that you get to a point where you are no longer allowed to make mistakes.
The truth is that you are never finished growing and life is all about making mistakes. It’s a part of the process. It’s a part of being human, of living life.
If you look at other people and think that they have it together, they don’t. The truth is that nobody has it together completely. Everyone has their own issues, their own experiences, and their own perceptions to deal with. You don’t see everything. You don’t know their inner struggles. Even if someone can exude confidence in a particular space, that’s all it is. Contentment and confidence in that particular space.
This is not to say that we are hopeless. It’s just the opposite.
When we stop trying to run toward an arbitrary goal post, we can instead enjoy where we are right now. We will mess up and make many mistakes on our journey, but we will also grow, laugh, and have fun along the way.