Pretending to Be an Adult

Pretending to Be an Adult

If someone “acting like a child” annoys you, you might have had to grow up too soon.

How to step more fully into your adulthood, reclaim your childhood, and regain your patience all at the same time?

Julia Kurskaya, parent coach and graduate of our Coaches Training program, walks you through her breakthrough, shared here by permission:

In my favorite fifteen-minutes-of-peace while I put my toddler down for a nap, something came to me today. I realized what could be lurking behind my persistent feeling of not being grown-up. Another thing I was thinking about was that at some point in my life I lost respect for myself. Much to my surprise, these two things turned out to be connected—self-respect and feeling like an adult.
I thought about how hard it is for me to treat myself with respect. It amazes me when someone respectfully speaks about what I am doing. Today, on the phone, an unfamiliar woman called me a “specialist” in teaching English (my native language is Russian). I almost rushed to dissuade her, “Well, I’m not really a specialist, and you don’t even know me…,” but I stopped myself and left everything as it was.
I admitted the possibility that I am doing my job well. Maybe because this is not the first time I’ve heard this, or maybe because I reminded myself that I have a queue of students who I could not accept yet, since I do not have much time to work. But they agreed to wait until I do. Hmm.
Suddenly I realized that my lack of self-respect had not always been the case. There was a time when I treated myself with respect. I was not ashamed of myself, not thinking that something was wrong with me, that I was somehow incomplete, just pretending. When I was a child I was comfortable with who I was. I was respected by the teachers at school, I was respected by my mother and relatives. My few but wonderful friends respected me. And I respected myself.
And then everything changed. At the end of adolescence—the beginning of adulthood. Interesting.
Then it came to me. When I was a child, I respected myself for how ADULT I WAS! Almost like them, just not that tall, you know. My mom seemed to respect me for the same thing. “You are so responsible”, I would hear often. And I felt that I was so cool! I knew that someday I would become one of those adults who are always brave, ready to do everything themselves, without resorting to anyone’s help, who do not cry, are bold and persistent, and know the answers to all questions. They never forget anything, they are never late, they keep their word, and do not lie.
Apparently, I thought that someday I would wake up in the morning and become this stunning Adult Super Person. But the years went by, and nothing changed. I still felt like a child, even when my body looked more and more like an adult. When I was 8, I respected myself for being an adult in a child’s body. As a teen, I asked myself with horror, “What is wrong with me?” I was ashamed of myself for that. Some of my friends met with guys, went to discos, loved to do make up and buy new clothes; all this was completely uninteresting to me. I saw it as a confirmation of my inability to grow up, and forced myself to go to the disco at least once every couple of months.
I really want to give a hug to the 15-year old that I was back then. Nobody explained to me that an adult is not the super image that I created based on the expectations of my mom. Adult is a human, too, who can forget, make mistakes, and be afraid. And I can be an adult—any kind of adult. I can call myself an adult, even if a child lives inside of me. It would have been a HUGE relief for me to know that such an inner child lives inside of everyone!!
Now I wonder what it means to be an adult? And do they exist at all, those “adults”?
I don’t feel like a pretending-adult anymore.
I am human. I am.

When I asked Julia if this breakthrough in how she sees herself changed the way she sees her children, this is what she said:

Oh, it sure did!! 
I very often was annoyed when my eight-year-old daughter was acting like what seemed to me to be a three- or four-year-old. And today it came to me that every child can act as a two-year-old, or as an eight-year-old, or even as a grown-up sometimes. And every adult is free to act like a little child every now and then. It is just what all humans do. 
Now when my daughter does things that don’t much correspond with her age, I feel unusually calm!!

Note: Julia sent this to me a year after completing our Language of Listening® Coaches Training. As you can see, the coaching skills you learn you will keep for life. If you are interested in becoming a parent coach and gaining self-coaching skills like this for yourself, contact us to get on the waiting list for our 2020 training!

Julia Kurskaya, Parent Coach

Julia Kurskaya is a graduate of our Language of Listening® Coaches Training program, the mother of two, a psychology graduate student, and choir conductor. Fluent in Russian and English, she has translated parenting articles into Russian for parenting blog including one about SAY WHAT YOU SEE®. If you would like to reach her, contact us.

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