And I promised.
About eighteen years after that, while in the midst of juggling graduate studies, clinical work, family and creative projects, I gave my sister a call. I told her, "I think I need you to release me from that promise. "
And she did.
Even so, there are times when I don't quite believe that I know how to be a grownup. There are even times when just trying to be one feels scary.
Everyone else knows how to...Everyone else knows all about...Everyone else understands...
Deep down, though, I know I'm not the only one who feels like a little kid in grownup clothing.
What are we afraid of? Failure? Success? Becoming a stranger to ourselves? Being forced to abandon the secret, semi-conscious wish for someone, someday, to rescue us and take care of us forever?
A few years ago, I was teaching a group of college students who were on the brink of completing their training and earning their degrees. I told them, gently, that they might find that the time had come to grow up.
And I heard myself saying, "It's okay. You can be a cool grownup. The world needs cool grownups."
The world does need cool grownups.
They exist. I know lots of them. Uncles, aunts, teachers, friends.
I probably even am one. Sometimes, at least. When I remember.
What's a little harder to remember, at least for me, is that I can feel confused and incompetent and still be a cool grownup. Furthermore, I can feel independent and competent and still be a cool grownup.
The world needs cool grownups. The world needs us.