I’ve recently started a new job, straight out of university. All of my friends have been using the words “adult life” and “grown-up job”, and I can’t help but be freaked out by them. I’m twenty-two years old and I’m an adult now, a proper, real, full-blown adult with a 9-5:30 salaried (not hourly wage) job in an office with other real adults. It feels great to be earning money and not having work to do when I get home at the end of the day, but the problem lies with the fact that I just don’t feel like an adult. I feel like I’m playing a game of dress-up in the adult world, pretending to be a grown-up and half getting away with it.
To put it simply, I feel like a fraud. It’s like I’m an impostor and sooner or later someone with call this little girl out on her masquerade. There are so many things that make me feel this way, from rather large aspects of my life to the more trivial moments that happen every day.
My clothes don’t match. This is an issue that I have had for my entire life (or at least while I’ve been buying my own clothes), and one that has followed me into adulthood. I have an entire wardrobe full of trousers, tops, dresses, jackets and shoes that simply don’t match. I feel like real adults know how to buy clothes that go together and can form outfits, a skill I most certainly am lacking.
I wear Converse for everything. Along similar lines as the previous point, I just don’t have good shoes. I wear Converse for practically everything, unless it’s warm enough, then I wear my flip flops 24/7. I have one pair of black flats for work, but besides this, I have three pairs of Converse that I swap and change depending on my outfit (and that could all do with a good wash). Shouldn’t a grown-up have shoes that work in all situations and for all occasions?
How do you buy a house or rent a flat? Recently at work, quite a few of my colleagues have been discussing flat and house renting, and I quickly realised that I know not one iota of knowledge on how you go about acquiring housing as an adult. What is a credit check? And why do you have to pay so much money for them? Life is full of mysteries, only ones that proper adult humans know about.
Daddy drives me to work. In my defence, we travel to work together because we work for the same company in the same office, but it doesn’t make me feel any less child-like to have my dad take me to work and pick me up at the end of the day. I guess it’s what real adults call ‘carpooling’ or ‘lift-sharing’, except it doesn’t feel like that because it’s with my dad. (Not that I don’t appreciate it – thanks daddio!)
My handbag is bright and flowery. I bought it in a recent trip to Bicester Shopping Village, and it’s beautiful. It’s from Cath Kidston and is blue and lovely, but it only ‘goes’ with certain items of clothing. I can’t truly consider myself a proper adult until I have a bag that goes with everything, can I? Like a black leather one. My mum always used to have a plain black leather Radley handbag – I feel like this is a solid adult bag, pretty much the opposite of mine.
I’m 22 years old. I’m still young, I still feel like a child. I don’t feel a day older than I did on my 16th birthday, and that was six years ago, and this whole point is the cause of this unease and sensation of being a fraudulent adult. Technically, I’m a woman now and not a girl, but ‘woman’ just sounds too old for how I actually feel and I feel like a baby compared to all the real grown-ups in my life.
Despite all these points, I am somehow managing to pass as a real adult human. No-one has outed me in front of everyone as the little girl that I feel like I am. No-one has told me to wipe off my makeup and swap my copy of 1984 for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, because on the outside, I am an adult. I have a job and loan repayments to make (boo) and taxes to pay (boo) and I get official letters from important people. And while I understand that being an adult has no true definition or rules or directions to follow, the fact that I even feel like a fraud to begin with kind of shows that I’m still living with a semi-childish outlook on what it’s like to be a grown-up to begin with. That and the fact that I still use the word ‘grown-up’.