I was talking with a friend at lunch the other day and he was saying how he doesn’t feel grown up yet. He looks in the mirror and it’s almost startling to him because he sees someone who should be grown up and confidently assertive, but inside, he doesn’t feel like that; it’s almost like he’s playacting at being a grown up. He still thinks in terms of “when I grow up…” I completely relate to that. With so many things in my life, it feels surreal that I’m actually doing them. Like the fact that I’m a father. I don’t feel “mature” enough to be a father at all. When I was young, I always assumed that one day I’d feel grown up and then be ready to be a father. That day still hasn’t happened. I still feel like I’m figuring it out and am just play-acting at being a dad in the meantime. In no way do I feel what I, in my youth, assumed grown-ups feel.
I’ve come to hold two beliefs about this. One, our parents weren’t as “grown-up” as we thought they were when we were kids. They went through the same petty, immature issues with people and insecurities that we do when they were our age. But they just did what they had to. We do too. Being grown-up isn’t defined by how you feel, but by how you act. I don’t think I’ll ever feel really grown-up. If I waited for that to happen before doing “grown-up” things, I’d be waiting forever.
The other thing I believe is that this feeling that one can’t believe they’re in the life stage they are is more universal than I thought. I think it was an interview with Aziz Ansari, he was talking about hanging out with Kanye and Jay Z and he was telling them how his mind was blown – he couldn’t believe he was in a place in life where he was hanging out with them; it didn’t feel real. And then Kanye told him, he felt the same way! He couldn’t believe that he hangs out with Jay Z; it almost felt like he was playing at being a successful rapper, not actually being one. That was fascinating. If even Kanye feels like he’s play-acting at what he does, that he’s not actually not ready to be there, yeah, I think it’s a fairly universal feeling. Most people don’t feel ready to be where they are when they first get there.
I’m on a new kick in life of trying to embrace new things. For too long, I’ve tended to have the mindset that I will someday do stuff, in work, church, home, whatever. I kept telling myself I’d do it someday, once I was ready. I now realize that I’ll never feel ready. Years, even decades have passed with me putting off things until I was ready. Screw readiness; let’s try something new. That’s a not insignificant reason why I decided to go to London. It’s time for something different.