The Adults I Needed, The Adult I Need to Be

I have been thinking a bit on the last few days about the adult I needed as a kid. Those thoughts are what is currently helping to give me a bit of a swing forward. What kind of adults did I wish were around me when I was younger? It also makes me ask what kind of adult could I be today if I had those people then.


It’s frustrating to grow up like I did and have basically rework parts of my brain to settle into a better headspace. Then I look and I really realize I need to become that adult I wanted, because kids like me are not going away.


So what did I need? I needed open-minded, supportive people. I needed an adult to actually see the multitude of things I was hiding. I wanted to be noticed for more than grades and numbers. I wanted to be seen. It seems odd to say those things now, because some people scoff and tell me that of course I was seen, but those people never saw me living in my truth. Hell, I still don’t know what this truth is most days. It’s one of the many things I have been trying to figure out.


I wanted, no I needed, someone who would really listen to me and ask what was going on. Not ask in a way that would receive a flippant answer. I wanted to know there was an adult who wasn’t about to throw a hammer of judgement on me and who would actually hear what I was saying and those things I wasn’t able to vocalize yet.


Teenage me learned a little bit about these kinds of adults, but they were still too close, too connected to the possibility of turning on me and word reaching my family of origin. When I would finally feel comfortable, something would happen and I would backtrack as fast as I could. That has been my life for years. Get close, get scared, run away and block them out.


Then college came. The first year was mainly sort of figuring out what to do with this bit of independence, but still knowing I was connected to what most people consider home. I lived on campus the second year, because I allowed my mother to manipulate me into living at home for my freshman year. I suddenly exploded into myself and I remember finally letting people in. Some people found a crack in my walls and slipped right in before I realized it. There was this thing about taking certain advisees out to lunch or something so they didn’t think their advisors forgot all about them. So my one takes me out and we are just talking. Mind you, my queer ass was living as far as possible in the closet even though I was even engaged at this point to my now spouse. This lunch happened when I was a sophomore and I can still remember almost all of it. I remember what table we were at and what lunch hub we had walked to on campus for it. What I remember most is my advisor, the wonderful person they are, calling me out a bit on my queerness. I think they made the comment of me being gay, which at the time worked as a descriptor, and I remember feeling my insides freeze. This was it in my mind because here was an adult who I respected who found out what I was still trying to hide. I was afraid. I was terrified. I was sitting there trying to come up with some form of answer. Then I looked at their face. It wasn’t angry or disgusted like all my nightmares told me. Instead I found a softness and a caring. So, the first adult in my life that I admitted it to was my advisor. I finally found a safety net that let me bounce away from my fears.  


That feeling of safety is something I apparently craved and never realized I did. The departments I ended up in, were way more than just a bunch of students working toward degrees. It really did become family. I took a photo at one point, after graduation, of our senior photo from the one department and I posted it with the quote from Harry Potter when Professor McGonagall says “Welcome to Hogwarts. The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory and spend free time in your house common room.” This quote embodied a lot of my years at college and I am going to be forever thankful for it because without them, I don’t know where I would be.


I needed adults like those I found around me, both my peers and those professors and adults who were somewhat responsible for making sure we didn’t walk out in traffic, swan dive from the buildings or ignore when we were sick and should be in bed. I wasn’t used to people looking out for me, even if was just to make sure I went to bed when I had a fever instead of drugging myself and going to class anyway.


The adults I needed as a kid and a teenager were ones who were kind and would listen. I needed people who wouldn’t instantly judge me and make me feel bad about myself. I needed someone to encourage me to find myself rather than being who I was told I was to be. I needed to feel like caring and love [because we all know there are about 50 different forms of that] were not dependant on if they were happy with me because I was being what they wanted. I needed to know that I could be myself and still be loved.


I spent too many years wondering what was wrong with me. I spent too long wondering what did I do that made me so unwanted. I thought that if I was everything that everyone around me wanted, then I would be safe and I would be loved.  My very childlike thinking in that regard has followed me into my adulthood and is still causing me problems. I get afraid that I will disappoint or be a failure to those I care about, so I run away before that can happen. It’s hard to try and rework that part of my brain, but I keep telling myself… If I do this, I can be who I needed then. If I become who I needed, I can help others like me. I can show people there is another option.


With all of that being said, I have spent a lot of time being honest in ways I wish I wasn’t this past week. Be it when I’m really drunk or when I’ve had a trying day that it’s either I’m honest or I’m going to cry everywhere. I’ve sent a few messages or talked face to face with people and in my head working on other messages/emails. I’m trying to keep myself from running away when my inner self just wants to bolt. I want to grow, not run.


So I’ve also been spending most of my time listening to ‘Something Just Like This’ by The Chainsmokers with Coldplay.

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
The testaments they told
The moon and its eclipse
And Superman unrolls
A suit before he lifts
But I’m not the kind of person that it fits

She said, where d’you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can miss


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