Saturday, December 1, 2007

Becoming You

Here is the myth: when you become an adult you somehow, "magically" know who you are. You are supposed to be a whole person, a completed individual at some intentionally hazy moment in time. This moment has been defined by our society and government as the 18th year of your existence. The reality is that at 18 you are a person transitioning into adulthood, the first step of which is leaving your parents house and going to college or work. Other steps hopefully follow, work, financial independence, possibly marriage and children. So at that point you should be a fully formed person and "adult", right? Yeah, right.

The first step to adulthood is independence but becoming you, knowing you, is far more complex and time consuming than transitioning into independence. Independence is an important part of understanding who you are but it is only a small part.

Have you ever purchased an inexpensive piece of furniture that requires assembly? You purchase the piece, bring it home, open the box and here is what you find: instructions (usually written by someone who has never tried to put the item together), and several pieces, including nuts, bolts and sometimes special "wrench's to insert said hardware. If you have never had this experience - the "put it together yourself" furniture - you must try it. If you want to really learn something about yourself - a "do it yourself" project will give you some great insight into your personality. But I digress...
My point is that YOU are the piece of "do it yourself" furniture. At 18 or 19 or even 20, you are just pieces or who you will become. Your job is to put it all together. Which does not happen in the manner, the speed or the method that you imagine it will happen. It's a slow process with a learning curve the size of the Jura Mountains (look it up).

As you begin this process you will put things together incorrectly and have to start over. You may be missing a piece or something may not fit exactly as you think it should. It will be frustrating and aggravating. There will be swearing, sweat and possibly tears and blood. Hopefully it won't require a trip to the emergency room but sometimes it does. You may put it all together and decide you don't like it and want something completely different. No matter won't be easy.

Putting YOU together is a process. You are in the process of creating YOU. Right now, you don't know what that is going to look like and you're not sure if all the pieces are going to fit right but you just have to dig in and get to work.

The path to adulthood is built upon experience and choice, learning what works for you and what doesn't and ultimately being unafraid to work at creating something out of a box full of pieces. You can't become YOU without learning to do it yourself.