I pulled three cards from my prompt deck, and all three are pretty good, I think.
Interestingly, I took a workshop that required a reflection paper on the one about adding value to relationships (one point: humor is necessary for genuine connection). But since I had to write an actual paper on the topic, I kinda don’t want to do that here.
So I decided to go with the only topic I haven’t discussed yet: when did I realize I was a grown-up?
Of course, legally was at 18. I suppose when I graduated college at 22 could have been it. Car rental places would say 25.
But I don’t think I had really “grown up” by those ages. I was mature enough to hold a job, get married, and have kids, but there’s one element that didn’t kick in until later, and it offered a sense of “arriving.”
When I was 32, I quit my full-time teaching job with no plan for the future. It was totally out of character for me. I had always been studious and responsible, and—here’s the key—did what I thought others expected of me, regardless of how those things impacted my well-being. Of course you keep your job because that’s what a good working mother does. Severe exhaustion and stress is just part of the deal. Suck it up, buttercup. Your family needs your complete sacrifice.
But that year, my tenth year in the classroom, I hit bottom. I had been burning out for a few years, and by the time I quit, the fire was out. I remember exactly where in the room I stood and even which kids I was looking at (those exact kids didn’t push me, haha), when I knew I was done.
I walked into my principal’s office at lunch and told him. I finished the remaining three months of the school year and walked away.
When I told others about it, they always asked what I was doing next. I told them I didn’t know. A few seemed confused. A couple recoiled. One directly confronted me with questions. But most were supportive. I think they’d been where I was, a somewhat scary place of uncertainty but also of possibility.
The beautiful thing is after that, everything fell into place. I found a part-time reading specialist position at a school where an old friend was principal, a position that allowed me to focus on the reason I went into teaching in the first place: the kids. I didn’t have to deal with grades or parents or extra meetings or any of the other hundreds of things teachers have to do. The part-time hours gave me more time to focus on my family, and after a while, time to discover another passion–writing–something I would in no way have had the time or capacity to do as a full-time teacher. I hadn’t even had time to consider it.
So my grown-up moment is that: shedding something crushing, even when it was scary, to figure out what I really wanted to be.
What about you? Was there a moment when you realized you’d fully adulted?