On growing up

You’re standing in front of the mirror dabbing on a layer of foundation. The thick powder covers what’s left of your adolescent acne and smooths out your complexion. You’re dressed in your best work clothes, a far cry from the T-shirt and jeans you usually don, your own comfortable attempt to just blend in on a day-to-day basis.

What scares you isn’t that you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror, but rather that you are starting to recognize the person staring back at you.

A couple of weeks ago, you stood with your mentor at the top of the staircase in Lee Hills Hall, talking about confidence and job hunting and life goals. She told you to remember it was OK to grow up.

You used to think growing up meant you paid all your own bills or had your own health insurance. Or at least, you wanted that to be what it was. You wanted it to be something tangible, something you could point to and say, “There, I’ve arrived.” Or if it couldn’t be found in owning an apartment, at the very least growing up could be something that felt more decisive, like suddenly solving all your weird life problems.

Your mentor likes to remind you of the person you are when you’re on the job, when you take command and own everything you are. You realize that perhaps those are some of the moments when you’re most comfortable with yourself.

And you wonder if maybe growing up means something a little bit different than what you like to imagine. Maybe it’s not fixing yourself or having a college degree or having benefits. Maybe it’s more a matter of learning to be comfortable with yourself.

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