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November 21, 2016

This article is from the November/December 2016 issue of Presbyterians Today magazine.

That horrifying moment when you’re looking for an adult and then you realize you’re an adult. So you look for an older adult, someone successfully adulating. An adultier adult.

Have you ever seen this internet meme? If anyone were to ask me to mark the day I started adulting, I would have told them the day I left for college. But that’s only partially true.

I have not lived for an extended period of time under my mother’s roof since college move-in day. I moved over 800 miles away from my birth to North Carolina and thought I was an adult. But the person I am now knows differently. Yes, I held down jobs, paid most of my own bills, and figured out how to get from point A to B without a car, yet still I was not an adult. I was inexperienced at life and still needed my mother to do the most basic of things for me, like the day I dislocated my knee. I vividly remember lying in the hospital, my knee the size of a grapefruit and the color of eggplant, and telling the doctor on call that they would have to wait until my mother was off work so they could talk to her, as she was my primary decision maker. The doctor laughed, then grew really serious.

“You are 21 years old. You can legally buy alcohol and vote. Your mother no longer has control over your body. Now sign this form so we can relocate you,” he said. This surprised me. At the age of 21 I didn’t think I could make a life-altering decision. I was adult-ish, but not an adult.

My real transition into adulthood started about a year later, the day I started as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV). Don’t see this as a shameless plug for the program. I knew that God had called me to spend a year serving others as a YAV, yet it felt like an insurmountable task. Words fail to do justice to the kind of life-altering experience I had as a YAV. I did not know it then, but I was on the precipice of something so much larger than myself. I was given a new kind of responsibility that I lacked when I was in college. My YAV year forced me to become an adult.

I signed up for a year of meaningful service, I was given a job that no one else could do, and I was called to do it in South Korea. Talk about jumping in feet first! No longer would I have the safety of an “adultier adult.” I was on the other side of the planet with no mommy in sight. I actually had other parents placing their children in my care. I may have been inexperienced, but I was the adult!

I took on that responsibility and both survived and thrived. Score one for me!

Looking back, I don’t think I would have ever started my transition into adulthood without my faith. I felt God’s call and I knew I needed to take it wherever it led. With that being said, one can’t survive on faith alone; we need to have some of our own skills. My faith in God helped me through some of the toughest times, but I still had to do a lot of growing on my own.

I had to make some tough decisions during my YAV year. In one instance early on, I was at my lowest. I live with primary dyslexia, which means that letters, language and numbers are difficult for me. And there I was, trying to learn a new language. I was given an option by my Korean-language teacher: quit and leave, or keep struggling. I decided to stay and keep struggling.

Now that I am 25, in seminary and living in Chicago, I think I can say that I am four years strong into adulthood. But there are still times when I scan the room, looking for an adultier adult, and that’s O.K.

For those of us in our 20s, “adulting” is talked about but not easily defined. There are times when we feel drastically underqualified for the things required of us, but that’s not the same as being incapable. Life is filled with moments like these. We have to struggle through these moments and have faith in ourselves and God. Being an adult means knowing that it’s OK to be scared.

I am more than positive that on the day my mother gave birth to me and held me for the first time she, too, felt underqualified, inexperienced and vulnerable. But she accepted the responsibility. That’s what adults do.

Quantisha Mason, Student at McCormick Theological Seminary, Adult Volunteer in South Korea 2013-2014.

Today’s Focus:  Young Adult Volunteers, Korea (2016-2017)

Let us join in prayer for:

Young Adult Volunteers, Korea (2016-2017)

Rachel Crilley
Simon Doong
Lydia Griffiths
Emi Lungmus

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

David Koch, OGA
Mark Koenig, PMA

Let us pray

Holy God, thank you for young adults who seek to serve you beyond the walls of church buildings, serving people in need in other countries and our cities. Bless them as they seek meaning, relevance, and community in our changing world. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 62; 145
First Reading Zechariah 10:1-12
Second Reading Galatians 6:1-10
Gospel Reading Luke 18:15-30
Psalms 73; 9

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