"Mom, is she a girl or an adult?"
Out of the corner of my eye I could see a 5-year-old girl at a nearby table looking at me inquisitively and pointing, as her mom turned red.
"Excellent question, little girl." I thought. I wondered how her mom would have answered if I hadn't been within earshot. Instead, she just retorted with a quick, "Eat your dinner." before returning to her conversation.
Of course, I began wonder how I would answer that question myself. I still feel weird calling myself a woman, but yesterday I realized that I'll be 27 next month. Based on everything ever, I'm a bonafide adult. If you asked a teenager whether or not they considered 27 "old"...they'd likely say yes.
I always thought that when I became an adult I'd have this moment of clarity and feel differently. But lately I've begun to realize that no matter how old you get, you pretty much have no idea what you're doing.
Despite the fact that I still feel like I'm that 5-year-old girl curiously staring at someone else in a restaurant, embarrassing my parents, there have been moments when I realized what it meant to be "grown-up".
This year, especially. Between quitting my job, moving across the country on my own, and starting a new job in a field where I'm fairly inexperienced, I've seen my grown-up side rear it's little head more than a few times; teaching me more lessons than I can count.
And despite the fact that I don't ever think I'll feel like a grown-up, I do think I'm becoming better at life. And maybe that's really what it's about.
If I had to define it, I'd say that grown-ups have just made more mistakes than people who are younger than them. Sometimes the only way to truly learn something is by doing things wrong the first time. You've got to see for yourself, right?
Everyone in the world could tell me dating someone who cheated on his previous girlfriend with me was a bad idea. But I'm not going to listen until I experience the life changing heartbreak when he inevitably cheats on me.
Most of my life has been spent trying to get things done as quickly as possible. Maybe it's just me, but my thought was never, "How can I do this in the best way?" It was always, "How can I do this in the fastest way?"
That applied to everything. Eating, learning, work, no matter what it was; my objective was always to finish as soon as I could.
I don't know when the shift happened but I find myself trying to do things better now. Maybe I just have more time on my hands, maybe my priorities have changed, or maybe I'm just realizing that doing things quickly doesn't usually work.
Instead, I'm trying to do things efficiently and better. I read more than I should about how to improve my life and am constantly looking for ways to refine things. If someone had told me 5 years ago that something I was doing was inefficient or ineffective, I probably would have told them to leave me alone. Now, I embrace it.
I don't think I'll ever stop being terrified that I'm messing everything up or making the wrong decision. However, if there's one thing I've learned it's that the more scared I am, typically...the better it will be.
Adolescent me would never apply to a job that I wasn't confident I could do. Now, I embrace the challenge. And yeah...I'm totally afraid of failing, but I know that if I do, it won't be a waste at all.
I'll have learned so many valuable things by taking risks. And if I have to fail to do that, then so be it. It goes back to making mistakes, I guess. I've finally realized that what it really takes to figure out life is messing everything up and doing it better the next time around.
With 2015 ahead of me, I plan to make new mistakes and not repeat the old ones. I'll find ways to continue to improve my life and I'll be terrified that I'm doing it wrong. I'll feel like a child, even when I have to tell people I'm 27 when asked my age.
I hope, as I can with 2014, that I'll look back on next year and be astonished at what that time brought out of me. I'll remember being terrified while still taking risks and realize that I learned more along the way than I ever had expected.
And to me, I guess that's what being a grown-up really is.
From Alysia: "Hopefully you know who I am by now as I've posted here a few times! If you like this post and want to read more of my ramblings, visit my blog!" She writes about spiritual and physical health at Equally Yolked. She'd also love if you followed her on Twitter, Facebook, or Bloglovin. This post is in support of my new program for 2015, Loud Ladies.