Reluctant Adult


Do you feel like an adult? I am 41 years old with a husband, a career, a mortgage, gray hair, wrinkles, and two kids and I still don’t feel like a real adult most of the time. People talk about women suffering from Imposter Syndrome, but I don’t think this has anything to do with my gender.

23-year-old me, with a beer, in the middle of the night, in China.

My imposter is a 23-year-old carefree girl posing as a middle-aged woman with responsibilities.

What’s interesting is that on days I feel like a successful adult, it usually has nothing to do with any big accomplishment. It might be because there was a new packet of toilet paper waiting when I finished the last roll, or when I successfully got both kids to their after school activities on time and in the right clothes, or when I vacuumed the house and made cupcakes on the same day, or when everybody ate a vegetable. These are moments that I quietly celebrate since they do not happen every day.

I sometimes wake up and cannot believe how much life I have already lived.

I met my husband twenty years ago. I’ve been in my career for eighteen years. I’ve been a mom for six. I’m not saying I want to go back to being 23 (well, maybe for a weekend), as I love my seemingly-mundane, toilet-paper-celebrating life. It’s just amazing to me that it has been almost two decades since I was 23. The second Harry Potter movie was only just hitting theaters, Apple had just released their second iPod (you remember, the iPods that didn’t have touchscreens), and you could buy the first EVER cell phone with a built-in camera.

Does this feeling ever go away? The feeling that you’re not really as old as you are and the constant mild surprise about all of the responsibilities you now have? Will my inner self still feel 23 when my kids are 23? I’ll be 58 when my eldest turns 23, so I’ll let you know. Now excuse me while I go and have a minor panic attack after writing that last sentence.