Contributed by Bianca, Authentic Living Guide
I’m 46 years old and until recently, I wasn’t an adult. When I say I wasn’t an adult, I don’t mean I wasn’t showing up in adult ways. Over the years I successfully held down many jobs, paid bills, taxes, made decisions, got married and owned a home. In obvious, visible, and societal ways, I was an adult. But I wasn’t really.
Being an adult is more than leaving behind your teens, getting a driver’s license, graduating from high school or having your own kids. Being an adult or, as I call it, an authentic adult, is about taking responsibility for yourself in your life. It’s about the real you that longs to be expressed, honored and shared. It’s leaving behind who you aren’t really and contributing your unique gifts to the world.
There’s a shortage of authentic adults. People who really know themselves and share their gifts. This is largely because although we grow older, get jobs and have families, we forget to listen to the deep whisperings of our own heart guiding us. We get stuck in our wounds. We fear disconnection and a sense of not belonging. We also don’t have clear pathways to claim our own adulthood.
Stepping into authentic adulthood requires self-knowledge, curiosity and courage. It calls for a willingness to let go of what may be very familiar and to step in to the unknown. It benefits from a formal observance, declaration or marking of the transition, which can be done through a self-designed or facilitated ceremony.
So how do you know when you are ready to step into your adulthood? It can just be a conscious choice. There are indicators too. Feeling like something isn’t right, discontentment, longing and emotional pain are clues.
For me, stepping into authentic adulthood came when I confronted my parents’ aging. The discomfort I felt was a sign. I realized my “coming to terms” and “making peace” with their aging process was really a call for me to step into my own life and to stop making my life someone else’s journey. The rest was, as my friend put it, me stepping off the dry rocky path I had followed, up a well-worn hill and turning onto a new path where there were animals, water and trees welcoming me to my real place in the world.