I remember as a child believing that adults knew everything. I looked forward to the day when I could be an adult and know everything too.
But you know, it didn’t quite work out that way. Yes, I did go through that teenage period of thinking I knew more than I really did (didn’t we all?). Yet even then, I often felt like I was faking it. Somehow I’d missed something, and I didn’t quite know everything yet.
Then I really became an adult—out of school, with a job and a home of my own—and I became even more convinced that I had missed something along the way. Oh, by then I realized that no one ever knew everything there was to know, but I did think that part of being an adult involved knowing how to deal with the troubles life throws our way, being able to handle life’s curve balls with wisdom, grace, and aplomb. I thought I’d have all of the basic tools I needed to navigate my way through life by then.
I missed that class in college, apparently.
Instead, I have spent most of my adult life increasingly feeling like an impostor because there was so much I just didn’t have figured out. I didn’t even have a clue sometimes. I so often felt like I was still flailing about trying to find my way while doing everything I could to appear polished and together and with it on the outside.
I’ve gradually realized that this is exactly what everyone else is doing too. We’re all in the same boat. As Anne LaMott says in Traveling Mercies:
“I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools–friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty–and said, Do the best you can with these, they will have to do.”
I still wish adulthood came with that inner toolbox of shiny tools, but I am so relieved to find out that I’m not the only person that somehow missed getting one of those. And now, instead of waiting around mourning my lack of shiny new tools, I am finally free to put my full effort into doing my best with the rusty, old, bent ones I got instead.
And you know what? I suspect that not only am I going to find that the tools I have are enough for the job, I’m also going to find that the journey is richer for having to find my own way with my imperfect set of tools. Maybe not easier, but likely much richer.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.