When I was a kid, I viewed adulthood as the bitter end to all things good and wonderful. For me, adulthood meant the end of childhood dreaming. It marked the end of that sense of wonder that permeated every aspect of my life.
No longer would Santa Claus be real. My letter from Hogwarts would never arrive. I probably would never be a popstar-slash-ninja like I wanted to be. The closer I inched toward 18, the more I stepped away from my childhood magic because I had to face reality: adulthood is a magicless void of dead-end jobs and 20-page tax forms and loneliness.
And that’s just the way the world works. Sure it sucks, but I have to survive somehow. Sticking my head in the sand and pretending I’m not an adult doesn’t make the real world go away.
But now I’m 20. And I don’t think the magic is gone.
I’m not saying that I still think I’ll be a ninja-popstar or that a man in a red suit is going to slide down my chimney and give me AirPods – I don’t even have a fireplace in my house, so really that’s not going to happen. But I don’t believe adulthood is that soul-sucking void I first thought it was. Sure, I’ve had to work my fair share of dead-end jobs and I definitely feel lonely sometimes, who doesn’t? But there is still a magic that comes with being a grown-up.
It’s just a different kind of magic.
For me that magic is in life’s little joys. I find it in cleaning my room and in grocery shopping, because oh my gosh, cooking for myself is actually pretty cool! I find it in three-hour conversations with friends and in my 20-minute walks to campus every morning. I find it in spending a Saturday night watching “New Girl” or in taping my movie theater tickets to my desk organizer. This new magic, or “adulthood magic” as I’ll call it, doesn’t have the same grand fantasy as my childhood. But in a way it’s better, because I am still able to find wonder in the world – it’s just that that wonder is based in reality. I’m still navigating the ups and downs of being an adult, but I’m viewing it through a lens that makes it bearable.
Because the reality is this: adulthood is difficult. It’s difficult having to look out for ourselves all the time. And the scary thing is, this isn’t just a transitory thing: we’re going to be adults for the rest of our lives. For a lot of us, it’s going to be a long cycle of going to work, paying our bills and dealing with the seemingly endless onslaught of problems that life loves to throw at us.
It’s easy to feel hopeless in that routine, to wish we’d enjoyed the times where we had less responsibility and more imagination. But if we look between the lines, if we hold onto those little moments, then it’s possible to find the beauty in madness. The magic we had when we were children doesn’t have to die when we grow up.