Adulting in Recovery

I’ve surpassed that age at which you know that something is “a thing.” Fortunately, I teach young people who find my lack of awareness endearing. They share their music, expressions, and other forms of pop culture with me.

It really wasn’t all that long ago that they explained “adulting” to me. I asked if it translated into emotional immaturity and fear of taking on new responsibilities. They rolled their eyes but described how stressful and anxiety-producing it is to move out of their comfort zones and do things they don’t feel prepared to do.

My heart softened because the truth is, I still feel like that sometimes. A little over 10 years ago I was in an attorney’s office, signing paperwork to purchase what became the clinic I run today. The feeling was surreal and I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t someone older and wiser than I be the one doing this?”

To grow in recovery means to guard against stagnation and take on new challenges. It’s no wonder that we often feel ill-equipped and unready. Sadly, many of us are perpetually surprised when we achieve success. We deny ourselves opportunities to build confidence and faith in ourselves when we frame our victories as a fluke, as luck, or give all the credit to those who supported us.

The hardest part of “adulting” is balance. We tend to approach our lives categorically: work, home, family, friends, our recovery, and other ongoing undertakings/ investments. Very often we find that one area of our life has fallen out of sync. Our response is to hyper-focus upon that area and work excessively to correct it. Doing this ensures that some other part of our lives suffers, and so we often engage in what is best conceptualized as firehouse management (always turning our attention to the next biggest fire).

Balance is an ideal – one that is never fully attained. It’s a work in progress that requires us to answer, “How good is good enough?” I’ve learned that my best is always enough. It has to be. It’s all I have. If a given situation needs more than I have to give, then I am reminded once again that I have people who want to support and assist me. I cannot wait until I need them because I am not always a fair judge of me or my limits.

Indeed, I am a person who wants to push limits. This requires a number of things that don’t come naturally to me – most notably, self-discipline. The more I develop small habits in time management and organization, the more I am able to have success outside of my comfort zone. As with every part of my life, developing these habits requires copious amounts of accountability, encouragement, and reassurance to achieve success.

My hope for each of us is that we continue to invest and allow others to invest in us. There is so much that becomes possible when we allow reciprocity and mutual support. As uncomfortable as it is to allow these exchanges (we’d much rather give), the results are always worth the effort.