Getting To Be A Grownup (Kind Of)

You can tell you’re getting to be kind of a grownup when the realization that Thanksgiving’s just around the corner becomes not something cheerful and exciting, but something that causes the kind of sinking dread and creeping panic that leads to bursting into tears while driving down the centre lane of the highway.

Not coincidentally, the same realization also leads to mantras of “The middle of the highway is not a good place to have a nervous breakdown. At least hold it together until the car is parked.”

Of course, if I were a proper grownup, the tears, panic, and nervous breakdown would be nonexistent. Or at least caused by something other than the approach of Thanksgiving.

When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was a whole bunch of family who I hardly ever saw falling all over themselves to tell me how big I was getting and how they couldn’t believe they’d seen me before I was born. As a teenager, they stopped telling me how much bigger I was than the last time they saw me and started asking me what my plans for university were. During university, I was so pleased to be home, actually seeing my parents for the long weekend, that I was able to entirely ignore the increasingly urgent “So what’s next for you?” questions.

Now the “So what’s next?” questions are reaching their fever pitch. Even though I haven’t walked across the stage in a funny hat yet (sidenote: apparently I don’t actually get to wear the funny hat, I feel rather ripped off) I finished my last class in April. Even though I generally tell important people like banks and immigration officials that I’m still a student, and carry around a card in my wallet that says I am until December, I know I’m really supposed to be joining the workforce. Or marrying somebody really rich so I don’t have to, but that takes a whole other set of qualifications I don’t have, so I’m putting that one aside for now.

Either way, when you really look at it, my occupational title has shifted from “student” to “unemployed”.

Facing down your well-meaning, but often none too sensitive family when you’re unemployed, not quite sure how exactly you’re going to get one of those job things everyone keeps talking about, and generally lacking a plan has a very high probability of tears, door-slamming, and running away from the table.

I know that being unemployed is not necessarily an indicator of failure with a capital F, even though it feels like it is. I also know that, particularly at this specific moment of history, it does not by any means make me special, noteworthy, or otherwise unusual. The unusual ones of my peers are those who got decent jobs right off the bat after graduating.

That said, none of that makes me feel any better. Whether I feel like I’ve failed at the one thing I was supposed to do easily my entire life because it’s true, because it’s been rainy and gloomy too often in the last month, for some other reason or for no reason at all is basically irrelevant.

I keep putting on the grownup costume (basically the clothes I’d wear to a job interview. Or to a job, if I got one that didn’t require a uniform) in the hopes that if I dress the part, something good will happen. This is probably silly. I’m not a real grownup, I’m the kind of grownup who lives with her parents and has no job. I’m the kind of grownup I never wanted to be, and family gatherings are the perfect opportunity to be reminded of that.

I did make it through Thanksgiving weekend with minimal crying and no major nervous breakdown. And I don’t think I’ll be the kind of grownup I hoped never to be for long, but it is still really frustrating while I’m here.

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