Growing up, the road map to adulthood seemed pretty clear: get an education, graduate, get a job, get married, pop out some babies, be an amazing parent, retire and eventually die happily. Everyone around me seemed to take this road map or some variation of this road map. For me then, there was no exception. I was to follow this road map in the exact same order. I was to live up to the expectations set for me by society and my well meaning loved ones. I was to forgo all my dreams because they were “unrealistic”. Being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer as Nigerian parents demand is always a sure bet (I’m Nigerian by the way). Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with the road map or being a doctor, lawyer or engineer. They are all good things. But deep down, I felt there was something more for me. I knew simply following this road map and attempting to please my loved ones would bring no fulfillment but I did it anyway.
During my time of following this road map, I found myself constantly transitioning. I didn’t quite know what I was transitioning towards but I continued on. I found that I was transitioning in the midst of, because of, and in spite of: loss of friends, gaining new friends, losing them again, loneliness, isolation, being broke, suicide attempts, finding God, finding a place to live, praying for a better place to live, getting an undergraduate degree, not finding a job, finding in-between jobs, going back to school, looking for a job, finding a job, looking for another job, getting a master’s degree, losing more friends, finding my purpose and the story continues. Some genius adapted a word for this process: adulting. People seem to have different definitions for the word but the general consensus is the process of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. This process of growing up has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It has been difficult NOT because of bills (as many would assume) but because of the hard choices that need to be made. What makes it difficult is my choosing to say yes to what I know is true and right in my heart and no to anything that is no longer right for me. Inadvertently, this means letting go of people and their expectations, beliefs that no longer hold true for me and surrendering to the process of maturing no matter the cost. Dr. Brene Brown, in my humble opinion, sums up adulting perfectly with the following quote:
“All the pleasing and proving and perfecting that you’re doing is getting in the way of what you’re supposed to be doing. You can never live the life you want to live and not disappoint other people. YOU’LL NEED TO CHOOSE NOW.”
This is it.
The quotation above is the essence of adulting. It is choosing the not-so-easy road when everyone else is making comfortable choices. It is attaining the bravery to silence every other voice but God’s in determining what is right for me. It is ridding myself of perfectionism. It is being gentle, patient and kind to myself. It is knowing that I may disappoint many along the way by choosing to do what’s best for me but doing it anyway. It is always being the bigger person. It is forgiving myself and others quickly. It is being humble enough to acknowledge that I don’t know what I don’t know. It is learning the art of being both sacrificial (putting others before myself) and selfish (prioritizing myself). I am learning adulting is all this and so much more.
Right now, this is where I am. My dreams have been re-awakened and I am making the hard decisions to live the life I was created to live. By choosing to do this, I have found the process of adulting to be easier. Not easy but easier. It has brought so much clarity and contentment to where I currently am and where I am going. It has shifted my perspective causing me to thrive in a process that vowed to defeat me. Lastly but never least, it has helped me survive through the crisis of not knowing who I was and where I was going.
Thank you for reading.
Until next time,
Emem Joy Emah