On Growing Up

Ten years ago, I took a course called Daily Themes in college. For one semester, I wrote five short pieces a week. Some of them were funny (there was one about my suite’s pet goldfish) and most were forgettable. But there are a few I still think about, including this one about growing up and searching for direction.

Sometimes it seems like there’s a trick to growing up, but we don’t all get told what it is. There’s that one group that does it naturally: you turn around and suddenly, there they are, mature, wise, put-together, smarter than you’ll ever be. Others are more artificial; they grow up by reading the right books, making the right connections, choosing the right jobs. And when they’re successful, they’ve made it, they’re adults. Then there are the people that don’t grow up. They may have jobs and families, but they still talk like college freshmen, or maybe even high school juniors. They never seem to have anything to say, but you can’t get them to shut up, either.

And then there are the rest of us. We wish we could be in the first group, but we’re not that coordinated. We could be in the second one, but we’re not networkers, and our careers of choice aren’t exactly prone to immediate success. We’re friends with the last group, but we can’t talk to them, and we get tired of listening. So we go on, trying to learn a little more, write a little better, talk about things that actually mean something, and not give up being us.

We’re looking for direction, and we have a map, but we haven’t figured out whether we should take the short route or the scenic one. So we wait at the corner, looking in every direction and learning something from each one, but never making a decision. We’re hoping someone will come along and show us our path, but we aren’t sure if we’ll know to listen when the time comes.

We think too much, and we hope someday that it will all have been worth it.

I’m better at networking than I was then, and I suspect that the groups I described exist only from the outside and that at our cores we all have these insecurities, but the rest still feels true.

I hope to share new writing this summer — watch this space! And if you have a map for me, send it my way.

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