In high school, I was a budding political journalist who advocated for the legalization of polygamy. As you can imagine, I didn’t get invited to the cool kids’ prom afterparty which, in all likelihood, was their loss. This has been the theme for much of what has followed.
I’ve had a few moments that I think reek of adulthood, moments where I’ve thought, damn, maybe this is what adulthood consists of—maybe I’m here. When my first friend got raped, and confided in me, asking for help, I figured that maybe childhood was done. And then when it happened to my second friend, I figured maybe that meant we were all adults now.
The time I set up wifi all by myself felt like adulthood, especially if you edit out the prior three nights of having no wifi, an empty apartment, and a box of Popeyes chicken for dinner. The winter I realized I hadn’t visited my hometown for more than five consecutive days in over a year was another big hit, as I realized that independence sometimes means shedding comfort. Mostly, though, adulthood has been the slow process of coming to terms with the fact that I was born with a dark and twisted head, a biting sense of humor, and an incomprehensible, innate weirdness that makes it hard to find my people.
For creative types especially, I think adulthood is realizing that even if you were the kid working on your sci-fi princess fantasy novel at age nine, you can still be loved. There’s a place for you, now, in a way that there never was when we were children. Perhaps childhood is particularly rough for us because we haven’t learned how to hide our dark and twisty parts yet—we assume they’ll be accepted, and we’re taught quickly that they’re not.
When you grow up, you slowly learn to be selective with your bizarre parts. Wait, adult-minds-of-the-world say. Don’t let strangers in, don’t scare them with your nerdiness, your curiosity about the fifth dimension, your long struggles with anxiety or Bipolar disorder, just yet—test them first, see if they’re the same. See if they are your kin. See if they listened to The Smiths’ "Asleep" on the way home from school after long days, see if they picked up smoking cigarettes just to know what was so bad about them, untrusting of authority and ripe for rebellion.
As children, we think everyone will want to help us dream up the next chapter of the sci-fi princess novel. We think the world is divided into cool and uncool, normal and outlier. It felt like adulthood when I realized that there were other people that had been similar to me all along—the sort of people equally interested in ideas, Wilco, and magic mushrooms. Maybe adulthood is realizing there’s never really been a ranking system except in our minds.
Washington D.C./Richmond, VA
Liz Wolfe is a nomadic writer and college student, currently floating between Chile and Washington D.C. She’s been published in Reason Magazine and Students for Liberty's blog and she dearly likes to piss people off through her political journalism. She hopes to become Louis C.K. when she grows up, but if that plan fails, being a writer and a dog-mom would be just as good. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter (@lizzywol) for more writing.