One’s evaluation of adulthood really varies across the lifespan.
From birth to about age 8, kids see adults as superhuman. They’re practically perfect in every way, they get to stay up late, and they know SO MUCH. They know about the water cycle and the U.S. presidents. Adults can drive and ride bikes without training wheels! Amazing!
Around the pre-teen years, a partial manifestation of reality appears in the sulky 12-year-old’s mind. Adults aren’t perfect at all. Sure, they have jobs and houses, which is great…but do adults know how to hashtag their tweets? Do they comprehend the importance of friendships? Is their work harder than dividing fractions? Clearly not! But in the back of that pre-teen mind, a single thought is on replay: When I’m an adult, I will…[be more competent than the adults I know].
This presupposition continues throughout the early teenage years, but as adulthood looms closer and closer, the teenager begins to suspect that they judged adults too harshly in the past. Then that fateful day comes, and the teenager-turned-adult realizes: I’m an adult and I have no idea what I’m doing.
I’m a recent college graduate — reasonably competent at most activities of daily living — and I wonder all the time if I am the only person who makes everything up on the fly. And worries constantly about being totally unprepared for responsibilities. And still has the movie taste of a 12-year-old. And would rather wear jammies than actually look presentable. (And says “jammies”.)
But now I have a new theory.
Maybe we’re not failing as adults because we’re scared and clueless. Maybe the moment we realize how little we know is when we become adults. What if our ability to hold down jobs, build friendships, and continue living despite our inadequacy is what makes us truly mature?
If you think you are really good at something and you do it, is it really that big of an accomplishment? I feel that it’s more admirable when someone takes on a task for which they feel totally unprepared. I always feel a rush of respect for Frodo when he announces, “I will take the ring to Mordor! Though…I do not know the way.”
So I have a proposition. Instead of feeling bad about all the ways we are underqualified — as adults, as Christians, as parents, as teachers, as whatever we have been called to do — let’s embrace the fact that we are indeed incompetent but we choose to keep moving forward regardless. Let’s embrace that God chooses to use what is weak in this world, and that he demonstrates this in the fact that none of us are really ready for adulthood!
What is one thing that you feel makes you an under-qualified adult?