This morning, I got online and reserved a hotel room for an upcoming trip. Under “Number of guests,” I filled in “two adults.”
And then I thought, “Adults. Pfft.”
I mean, I am an adult, there’s no getting around it. I’m 48, for goodness' sake, and I hold down a real job, own a house and pay taxes. I even have a 401(k), although it’s so small it’s probably more like a 401(j). No way I qualify for the full "(k)".
And see? That’s what I mean. Wouldn’t an actual adult know what “401(k)” stands for? Are we supposed to have precisely four hundred and one Ks in order to retire? Why is the “k” in parentheses? Is it incidental? I have zero idea. I also don’t really know what people mean when they say their house is “in escrow,” even though I’ve bought a house. And don’t get me started on the stock market. Who is Dow Jones? It sounds like a super-fake name, if you want my opinion.
What I’m trying to say to you is I am an adult impostor. I look like a middle-age person, although a staggeringly sexy one, but on the inside I’m 15 and wondering when some responsible person is going to come home and make dinner. And possibly care for my lawn that’s looking a trifle like I attended the Addams Family School of Landscaping. And can I have some lavender Gloria Vanderbilt jeans? Why not? What do you mean we have to pay the bills?
So, I’m an adult, but not. I’m totally faking it.
“I have to get home and write an article on being an impostor,” I told my friend Jo tonight, after we went to a poetry reading. And see? That sounds adult. Poetry readings. But mostly I was hoping there’d be free snacks, because I’ve only got spaghetti and canned tuna at home. For lunch, I spread peanut butter on crackers. I mean, I’ve moved up from ramen and red fruit punch in gallon jugs, which were two of my college food groups (the other two were white zinfandel and cuticles), but still.
“I just read a book on successful people,” Jo told me, “and in it they say one of the greatest fears people have is, 'What will I do when they all find out I have no idea what I’m doing?'”
So, see? It’s not just me.
I know the person I’m dating feels the same way. “You understand this is it,” he told me once, on one of our first dates when we were at a bar on a Thursday. “This is as mature as we get. When we hit 50, we don’t suddenly become British bankers.”
Maybe if I’d had kids, I’d feel like more of a grown-up. I mean, I guess if you have to be responsible for another actual human being you’d feel less like one yourself. But that ship has sailed. I never requested that ship in the first place, really. I was too busy buying Hello Kitty lip gloss and driving past boys’ houses. I mean, I’ve done both those things in the last year.
And, truthfully, the impostor feeling doesn’t really end with the adult thing. Even though there are some things about me that are and always have been true, I still feel a little like, “Really?” about all of them.
For example, since I first read "Robert the Rose Horse" when I was five, I have had a ding-dang book in my hand. My entire childhood (the actual one I had, not the perpetual one I’m stuck in) can be summed up in one phrase: “Just let me finish this chapter.” I read “Gone With the Wind” in fifth grade. I read the dictionary one summer (spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well).
So, I think it could be safely said that I am a reader. And yet? If someone asks me if I’ve read a certain author and I’ve never heard of that person, I get a little doubt. Am I not really a reader? Do the 583,048,920 books I’ve consumed somehow not count?
And funny. I’ve always been funny. I was voted class clown, I had a widely read humor blog. And yet? The very first article I ever wrote for Purple Clover, someone left the comment, “Meh.”
Which, by the way, thanks. Thanks for being mean, person out there.
But my point is, I see something like that? Suddenly I’m the humor impostor. Wow, I think, maybe I’m not funny at all. Maybe I should get a job writing those Bazooka comics, that’s how unfunny I really am. Impostor.
So there it is. I feel like a big fake most of the time. I feel like I fall short of the “You Must Be This Tall to Ride This Adult Ride” called life. I’m like that impostor perfume you can get at the drug store. “If you like Grown-Up, you’ll love Pseudo Adult!”
But what’re you gonna do? Feelings aren’t facts. I’ll just get up every morning and do what’s in front of me, until I do become a grown-up.
Wow. That sounded sort of … mature.