Why doesn't anyone tell us, growing up, what being a grown-up is actually like?
Why not just tell us, "Kids, this is really how it's going to be." Maybe then we could prepare for the harsh realities of this world, instead of believing we can all grow up to be whatever and whoever we want, that all our dreams can come true.
I have never been a pessimist. But the older I get, especially this year of my life, the more pragmatic I seem to become.
Our dreams are just not as easily reached as all the teachers and coaches and others led me to believe. I'm not alone in feeling this way, am I?
I'm not suggesting that adults should stop encouraging kids to figure out what they want in life and strive for it; I'm simply saying they might figure out how to be a bit more helpful - and a bit more realistic - about it all.
Because while I've definitely got good - great? - things in my life now, it's not all sunshine and roses like I always thought it could be, if I just worked hard enough, got good enough grades, tried hard enough, pleased enough people. It just doesn't work that way, I'm realizing now. Because people are human. We make mistakes. We change our minds. We don't always have the answers (do we ever have the answers?).
Two of my friends were laid off last week. Another friend's husband was laid off more than a month ago. These people did nothing wrong. They deserved not an ounce the hand they were dealt. Rather, they worked hard, tried hard, showed up on time, smiled for the most part, did what they were supposed to do. Were these their dream jobs? Probably not. But they were their jobs. And it's not right for anyone to show up one day and have the rug pulled out from under them. Bad economy or not.
One of those friends has a blog. The other day, he said, this:
"Should you ever find yourself adrift in a sea of joblessness, it's important to stick with a tried and true routine to go about your daily affairs. You know, so you don't end up sitting around in your underwear all day and finishing a bag (or two!) of Doritos ...
"Anyway, you gotta get out of bed. Seriously. And you have to put pants on and pretend to be a grown-up."
That's just it. Pretend to be a grown-up. Most days, I feel like I'm just pretending to be a grown-up. Do I really know any more than I did as a kid? Maybe. Probably.
But dealing with the things grown-ups deal with - layoffs, pay cuts, mortgages, the commute, health insurance, having babies, making a marriage work, the list goes on - God. Who really wants to do all of that?
I don't really want to deal with those things. I just at my core want to be happy. I suppose the key is figuring out how to deal with those things and be happy at the same time.
It must be possible.