I had a conversation with my Dad when I was just about to graduate from college. I’ll never forget it. He said, “You know, Annie, I’m in my fifties now, but I still feel, inside, exactly the same as I did at 22.”
And I thought… “Well, darn, here I am at 22 and I guess this is it.”
Now I’m 35 and I still feel pretty much exactly the way I did when I was, oh, 16: hopeful but overwhelmed, ambitious and clueless. How it is that I own a house and a car and am responsible for four tiny humans is a thing beyond question or mystery. It’s the stuff that makes you go crazy if you think too hard about it.
Who are any of us?
How do we get qualified to be here, to live, to take all these chances?
I think there’s a point we hit, growing up, that is ‘adult awareness.’ Awareness of self, of the world, of ourselves in relation to the world. It might not be an awareness that is accurate, but it’s a certain point of fullness, of knowing your own identity apart from everyone else’s.
And then we spend the rest of our lives cycling through experience after experience, learning or resisting, expanding or contracting, taking on or letting go, holding or releasing, always breathing, always progressing (whether we know it or not). Also, always feeling mostly like we did when we hit that first point of awareness. Just deeper. We gain clarity, scope, points of specificity, threads of connection. Insight, sometimes. More confusion, at others, as we round a bend and see that “that one thing I thought I had all figured out is definitely not figured out at all.”
It’s all growth, all of it, and it’s all us, all of it. Cycle through it. Don’t resist. Or do, if you want to. It’s okay. The dance continues, and here we are in it.