Give Yourself Permission to be Your Own Adult
My first experience working in the “adult” world was in a high school. I was in my final semester of college, and scheduled to a semester of student teaching before I graduated. It was the first time I was working in a capacity with people who were a range of ages older than I was. And I’ll never forget the strangest feeling of the first time I talked to a much older co-worker and called her by her first name.
It was an interesting dynamic – on one hand while I was in class I’d be calling people “Professor” or “Mrs.” still, and on the other hand on mornings when I went into the high school, I was calling people of the same distinction “Kate” and “Laura”.
I became curious about the concept of becoming an adult. What were the qualifiers? At what specific point in time do you actually go from girl to woman? It couldn’t be age, because I knew people much older than me that had the maturity of someone much younger and vice versa. I knew it wasn’t just marriage or when you bought your first home, but still, what was it?
As children we learn that people who are our “elders” – older siblings, teachers, parents, friend’s parents, etc., know more than we do and are wiser than we are. We learn how to ask for help, how to gather opinions in order to make decisions and advance through life. But I had started to see places and spaces in my life where I had intuition to do things in an opposite direction of what those people were telling me.
My most obvious example of this has been my career. I went to college and got a degree in interior design. The first week of my last semester, it hit me that this was not for me. I had been following all of the rules along the way, only to look up and find myself needing something else. The only language I had at the time was that I needed something “more fulfilling” than I’d found design to be for me. That summer, I decided on English education – working with kids seemed more fulfilling, and I’d always had a passion for books – specifically the lessons about life that characters could learn, and how they could grow and change over time. So I went back to school for 2-1/2 more years to become a teacher.
Jump to the spring of 2014 – 2 years into my first teaching job as an aide. I’d spent an unimaginable amount of time delving into the self-help section of Barnes and Noble, and I have another “aha” moment; there has to be something else. I enjoyed teaching but it wasn’t my passion. I didn’t get lit up about it. I was good at it, but just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you need to keep doing it.
That summer I decided to let go of logic and reason around what was a realistic next step (other adults said words that were realistic to them, like “resumé”) and I made a list. My list contained all of the qualities of my dream job, and looked something like this:
-in the personal development field
-with a team of people who lit me up
-work from home
-easily attainable (specifically, the language I kept using was that I wanted it to be as easy as having a conversation and someone offering me a job)
I said a prayer, and let it go. And I took two very important steps after that: I absolutely knew that it was possible, and I went back to the job I currently had and found as much joy as I could where I was, trusting that it would show up when the time was right.
This is important because for the first time, I 100% listened to my intuition, and completely ignored what the “adults” in my life had to say about it. In order to preserve the power I felt about this coming true, I told no one. Because when you start telling something like this to a whole bunch of people who don’t know what intuition is like, you can get shut down, fast. Usually for two reasons – either they don’t have context for the experience and so they don’t understand (and people fear what they don’t understand), or they love you and want the best for you and this seems risky/illogical and they don’t understand.
Cut to October of 2014. An email lands in my inbox from a woman whose email list I had signed up for, saying she was offering a one-time session of Pay-What-You-Want coaching calls. I was an immediate “yes” and made my appointment. I had decided I wanted to talk about money, and then later if I had time, about my career. Twenty minutes before the call, I switched those two around. While on the call, she asked me many questions, seemingly to help me get clear on what I wanted – did I want to plan events, “yes,” did I want to help run programs, “yes”, did I eventually want to start my own business, “no.” Everything we talked about was building an image of exactly what I had wanted to do. And at the end of the call, you can imagine my surprise when these next words came out of her mouth:
“Well I don’t know if you noticed, but this just turned into an interview. I’m actually looking for someone just like this to help me run my business. Do you want to do a trial run?”
I currently get to live my dream job every day. It’s 100% my jam, extremely fulfilling for me, and I could not love it any more. And it hit every. single. thing. on my list that I made in the summer of 2014. Right down the the “feels like we’re just having a conversation” part. All because I decided to be my own authority, above any other adult in my life.
Every time you’re looking for your own answers inside other people, you’re giving your power away. You’re not trusting that you know the answer. That doesn’t mean never ask for the opinions of people you love and respect. It means ask and consider those opinions, but make the decision from your own conclusions. Sometimes that means saying, “thank you for your opinion, I’m still going to choose the other thing instead.” It doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It means you’re choosing yourself first. Because you know what’s best for you.
For me, becoming an adult has been about inner wisdom and self-trust. It’s meant that sometimes I do things that other adults don’t like or agree with or understand. It’s meant that there are times I have to ask advice from the kid in me who reminds me to not take life too seriously. It’s meant continually not meeting the expectations of others. It’s about me following my own intuition, and trusting that the people that love me can hold space for me to make this journey the way I need to.
Are there places and spaces in which you’re still giving your power away to another, someone you perceive to be “more of an adult”? Are there ways in which you’re not trusting yourself to know the right answer? Or even better, pretending like you don’t know the answer when you really do?
Give yourself permission to know the answers. To handle the power. To trust yourself. To be your own authority. To be your own adult.