Do you remember that point in your adolescence when you were sick, with the cold or the flu or something, and you realized that if you went to your parents or the school nurse or even the doctor that there was nothing they could do? All you could do was take some over-the-counter meds and rest. But it was somehow jarring to have that revelation: the adults in your life aren’t as all powerful as they once seemed.
When you’re a kid, you view adulthood as this otherworldly place. Not cool otherworldly like Hogwarts, but this mysterious part of life where you know all of the answers, where you know how to do all of these things that are completely inexplicable to kids. Over time that image starts to tarnish. You find out that adults lie (wait, what was that about the Tooth Fairy?), that sometimes they can be wrong (*cough* racist old people *cough*), and that sometimes they can’t help you when you need them (the aforementioned flu examples).
It takes a lot longer, though, to fully understand that adults don’t have all the answers. I don’t think I really understood that until I looked around for an adult only to find that I was the adult.
I’m a college grad, on my own in a new city, having to find a job and a place to live and basically be an adult. And there’s so much I don’t know. Half the time I feel like I’ve been thrown into the ocean and left to tread water or drown. Luckily I can still call on my parents for help (don’t worry, despite the previously mentioned moments of disillusionment, you guys are still very capable of helping me out. Sometimes.). But it’s pretty terrifying, being an “emerging adult.” There is no guidebook or class that gives you the answers, no lightbulb moment of “Oh, so that’s how to be a responsible adult. Got it.” It’s this learn-as-you-go clusterfuck.
But sometimes, and these are my favorite times, you actually do something right. You do something once foreign, something that you would’ve once called on your parents to do, but this time you were able to do it successfully on your own.
Then you have to do a little happy dance and reward yourself with ice cream. Like a real adult.