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Me? A Grown-up? Really?

March 5, 2010

When is it that you are actually a grown-up?  An adult.  I have been thinking about this a lot since I turned forty.  I remember when each of my parents turned forty, and I remember thinking they were so old.  So when is that magic age?  Eighteen?  Twenty-one?  Twenty-five?  Thirty?  Or, is it a set of experiences that makes you pass into the next level of your life?  There are definite rites of passage:  Driver’s license, Voting privileges, Graduations, Marriage, Kids, Buying a house….  But, when do you feel like a full-fledged adult?

I don’t.

There is this perception that I have, that somehow when I am all grown up, I will have the answers.  I will know how to solve any problem, do any job.  I will have everything handled, organized.  My house will run smoothly all the time.  This is how my mom made it seem as I was growing up.  She was Marge in Charge.  The house was clean, and beautifully decorated.  She never “forgot” anything that I can remember (but I forget a lot of things, which may be in her favor).  She was organized, and on top of everything.  She ran the house like a well oiled machine.

I don’t know if anybody out there knows this or not, but I was adopted.  And this is one area that it shows.  I am not like my mother, but I strive to be more like her every day.  You see, I am messy.  I like to leave the things I am working on right where I am working, even when I decide to take a break and do something else.  I am not a great house wife.  Chores give me hives.  And, being abstract and random, I forget things.  I lose things.  I put things down and forget where I put them.  But, that isn’t where I wanted to go with this post.  Even if it is related.

I wanted to talk about the internal struggle.  The feelings.  This new job is a job I can do.  I will be able to figure it out, and teach.  It might take me a semester or two to learn how to teach it the way I want, and to excel, but I have every confidence that it will come.  However.  I am feeling out of control right now.  I don’t have a clear picture in my head of how this is going to play out.  I am not even sure how to write a lesson plan, and long-term planning?  I don’t know where to start.  I am concerned about engagement, but I feel like I need to teach what the rest of the professors are teaching.  And, I know for a fact, I don’t feel anything like a college professor.

I am having this dialogue inside my head.  The one side saying that I may regret this change.  I know I have really good reasons for not wanting to go back into the classroom and teach elementary school again.  But.  I really loved teaching the little kids.  It is where my passion lies.  Where my heart is.  The other side is screaming:  ARE YOU CRAZY?  THIS IS THE PERFECT JOB FOR YOU.  CLOSE TO HOME, GREAT HOURS, FLEXIBILITY, PERFECT!  PERFECT!  PERFECT!  But, you see, I am very confident in how to teach those little kids.  I know how.  I could walk in tomorrow and not break a sweat.  I excel at that job.  This new one?  I feel like I did when I got my first job out of college, or when I walked into my first classroom as a substitute.  Like I am blind.  I have no idea what to expect, or how to prepare, or what to do.

I don’t like it.

I feel like a little kid.  Like I need someone to take me under their wing, and show me the way.  Would a grown-up feel this way?    I know legally I am an adult.  If I decided to break the law, I would be in the adult prison.  But, the dialogue in my head–the internal struggle is always present.  And, not only in the “job” category.  In the “parenting” category and the “wife” category and the “house keeper” category…in every category of my life.  I certainly don’t have it all together.

Am I the only one who admits this?  My close friends keep telling me that I need to stop vomiting out whatever is in my head.  I have been admitting to many people (including you) how nervous I am about making this HUGE change in my life.  It is not just a new job, but it is going back to work after nine years of being home.  And, I am not really sharing these feelings for the reassurance, “You will do fine…”  I know I will.  I am confident that I can learn what I need to, to pull this off.  That isn’t the point.  The point is I am nervous.  I feel lost.  I don’t know where to start.   That is just being honest.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t think I can do it, it just means I haven’t figured it out yet.

But, don’t adults have it all figured out?  I still feel like a scared little kid.  I thought by forty I would be this confident person who had it all together.  Apparently, not so much.

  1. March 5, 2010 4:01 pm

    I think all of us feel like this more often than anyone will admit. And it’s MUCH worse when in a situation like this: new job, huge change, stepping completely out out OUT of your comfort zone. I think realizing you’re an adult has to do with going ahead with it despite your fears and your insecurities. It’s knowing that the ony thing ultimately holding you up is your own spine. Your friends can be with you, supporting & encouraging, but you are the one that makes it happen. It’s not about being in charge, or well-oiled anything: it’s just doing what needs to be done (even if it’s late, even if it’s messy, even and especially if you don’t want to do it).

    Also, it could be worse. You could have tried going back to work after 30 years! hahahahaha!

    • March 5, 2010 4:13 pm

      Oh, my gosh Liz! I am still laughing out loud. My kids didn’t understand it, but they laughed too. I tried to explain a typewriter to them, but it is so hard without the visual aid! Wow. Times sure have changed!

      And you’re right. You are a grown up when you have to suck it up and do it. And, I guess that makes me all grown up! I talked to a friend today who really helped me get a sense of what I need to do, so I am feeling better. BUT, I am still scared half to death.

  2. March 10, 2010 9:39 am

    I’m sorry, I’ve been meaning to comment on this for days. My thought of feeling like a grown up is that I think MOST people feel the same way – like, “am I really doing this? Who is this person, responsible for OTHER lives and their well being? Who is this, with a house note and a yard to mow?” Of course, some are too proud to admit it, or don’t have that rich inner life that allows for self-reflection. Some are just trying to survive a tough life. I am still amazed that I adapted to taking care of a baby, remembering to pack the diaper bag, to have the bag of goldfish in my purse. He’s made it this far and I haven’t forgotten to feed him yet.

    And I would say, that teaching college kids is not all that different from teaching little ones. Both are kinda floundering and aren’t entirely coordinated in their lives quite yet. I was always struck by the similarities of helping people studying for their GED and teaching preschool, both jobs which I did on alternate days – there was a lot of hand holding, and encouragement, and limitations. You will absolutely find your way, just be patient with yourself as you learn the ropes.

    And personally, I think vomiting stuff out of your head – especially of the word variety – is a good thing. Don’t listen to whoever tells you to stop!

    • March 12, 2010 10:25 pm

      Ah, but they have a point. I can be my own worst enemy. I can make it seem like I don’t think I can do the job. Not true, just panicking. “Censor Meg,” is what I need to tell myself. I am not good at the censoring.
      I love that you used to teach people studying for their GED! I feel like I am kind of in the same boat, or maybe I am in the same convoy. You may be getting emails from me next year to clarify expectations…hope you don’t mind.
      Oh, and BTW…. I am still amazed that I have THREE children and I haven’t lost or broken one yet. I totally know what you mean!

  3. Jamie Fisher permalink
    March 11, 2010 11:24 pm

    Liz totally hit it–doing what HAS to be done IN SPITE of everything. Yep. That’s a big girl, all right! Just saying that reminds me of my mom as I was growing up–she was just always doing what had to be done & doing it well! Clean house, job, meals, ironing (yes, really), being a great mom… She did it all! I remember when I was leaving the hospital with my first son (at 41 years old–shouldn’t that make me a big girl already even without the addition of a CHILD?!). I said to the nurse, “When do I get the secret book with all the answers?” She whispered in my ear, “The secret is there are no answers.” WHOA. I guess ya just do it. Nike had something there, huh?

    • March 12, 2010 10:27 pm

      “The secret is there are no answers.” Wow. That is exactly it, isn’t it? And, I don’t iron. That is beyond the grown up part and into perfection.

  4. March 30, 2010 9:39 am

    I haven’t worked for pay in 12 years, and I know I would feel exactly like this.
    But I have had a few moments of feeling like a grown up lately, now that my daughter is 12. I find myself trying to get her to understand I was her age just yesterday, to get her to understand how good the music was in the 80’s, that i was cool too, and i enjoy her music and turn it up loud in the car (it is good!) and when i hear myself it strikes me that all of it sounds so mom-like, and so NOT cool, SO lame. So old – grown-up.

    • March 30, 2010 10:36 am

      Oh, no. That is on the horizon for me too? To be the lame grown-up trying to sing to my kid’s music? I haven’t even thought that far in advance! I have thought about these new students that I will be getting though. I know how lame I will come across to them. I don’t even know who Lady Gaga IS! I shudder at the thought.

  5. March 30, 2010 10:51 am

    lady gaga rocks! (don’t tell my daughter i said that – but really, she’s better than madonna was.)

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