As a kid, I looked at the adults around me with a mix of admiration and awe. They knew exactly what to do if a baby started crying and how to call and make a doctor’s appointment without freaking out. They knew where they were going and what they were doing. But one day you finally nab a seat at the big table. You get to the point where something happens and you find yourself frantically looking around for an adult only to realise you are the adult.
There’s no set date for this transition but it usually happens after you graduate. One day you’re being told you’re too young to be making any big decisions by yourself and the next you have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. For whatever reason, once you find yourself finished with school, people start looking at you like you know what you’re doing with your life and you get a whole new set of responsibilities.
I’ve seen this process happen with me and my friends. One of them has finished her nursing degree and is working full time in a hospital; her job is literally to make sure the people she is looking after stay alive for as long as possible. She has health insurance and a credit card. On paper, she’s exactly the sort of person I thought had their shit together. In any sort of life threatening situation I’d totally pick her to team up with.
Another one has finished his apprenticeship and if he makes a mistake on the job then he’ll compromise the structural integrity of entire buildings. One is teaching five-year-olds how to read and write and, for six hours a day, she is responsible for the safety and education of other people’s kids. These people have mortgages and car loans- the things I thought only real adults had.
But I’ve grown up with these people and it turns out that the adults who I once thought had certifiably got their shit together…don’t. They binge watch Disney movies and put off doing washing until they’re down to their last pair of clean undies. They eat cereal for dinner when they can’t be bothered cooking and get drunk off cheap alcohol and text their ex when they’re feeling lonely and pathetic. Sometimes they’re in charge of decisions that can have huge impacts on other people’s lives. And sometimes they’re chucking a sickie at work because they had a big night out. They cry, they fart and they poop. They have mid-career crisis and sometimes they suck at saving cash too. They’re just as blind drunk about this whole life thing as I am.
Once upon a time I thought adults were magically able to sort everything out, but I’m realising it’s total bullshit. Regardless of their degrees, qualifications and years on the clock, everyone is still trying to get it together. Turns out, the nurses, builders, teachers and receptionists- the people who are meant to have shit sorted out- are still just stumbling around and trying to figure it out like everyone else is- they just have more to lose.