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Failing At Being An Adult

What does that even mean? Failing at being an adult!

  • Not measuring up

  • Not meeting social requirements

  • Not breathing

  • No white picket fence

Who's requirements are we not meeting? And do those requirements really matter?

I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about this as a mother of two teenagers, one who has been on his own for the last year and one who is going into her last year of high school- it is an often discussed topic.

I should have done that

I should have known that

What's wrong with me

I'm an idiot

I'm a failure

I'm doing it all wrong

One of the blessings and curses of being a parent is getting to have these conversations (it's a privilege)! The difficulty is doing it while realizing you are still punishing yourself much like your child is.

I should have known this, done that, said that, been that.

I am always measuring myself by some opaque standard. These standards of should have (the fuck you's of adulthood) for the most part are based in nothing. No one is saying to me - what's wrong with you?

As a 48 year old I am hearing "you should have known to XYZ", "Everyone knows how to do XYZ", "What's wrong with you?". The answer to this inner negative dialog is NOTHING IS WRONG WITH ME! And nothing is wrong with you.

All of us bring into adulthood things we know how to do without really having to think too much about it.

Some people know how to...

Change spark plugs

Get a regular oil change

Set up dentist appointments

Get regular check-ups

Get a job

Be a good employee

Show up to work on time

Take corrective criticism

Do self-care

Take regular showers

Clean their house


Balance their checking account

Show up for people

Have boundaries

Think of others

Eat healthily


Some of us know how to do more than one or two things because... throughout our young lives people showed us how to do different things, taught us how to do different things, prioritized our learning those things.

And some of us did not.

Some of us have had to spend our adulthood re-parenting ourselves in every possible way. And still, even we know how to do some things.

What I'm getting at is EVERYONE is learning! From 18 - 80 we are all trying to figure out how to do this! What it means! And what's important! No one has it all worked out but for some reason those one or two or 30 things we don't know how to do make us think we are failing. We aren't!

Loving-kindness to ourselves goes a long way in making the medicine of adulthood go down easier (remember, it takes a spoon full of sugar). We can't know what we don't know, but we can learn.

I went into adulthood, not understanding boundaries- not knowing how to say no and own it. I have spent years learning how to have boundaries with myself and others and let others have boundaries with me. Would it have been easier to know this going into adulthood- yes! But I learned and gave myself what I needed.

Some things I will probably never learn- how to fix a car, frame a house, build stuff, and that's okay. I can't know how to do everything!

I will be a lifelong learner where emotional intelligence, mental health, relationships, empathy, mind-body connection, etc. are concerned because that's where I want to keep growing that is what I find meaning and importance in.

And all the rest will sort themselves out in time.

What do you find meaningful? Keep learning that! What do you get called out for not knowing how to do? Saying sorry and taking ownership, having boundaries, saying no, saying yes, healthy arguing, self-love, etc. Learn. Read books, listen to podcasts, go to therapy, take risks, but keep learning.

Why? Because you are worth it! And life is worth it!



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