There have been many times over the last couple years when I’ve wondered what I expected as a child for when I got older. Was a certain thing happening, or not happening, at a time when I expected? Was I doing what I thought I’d be doing? How similar or different were my perceptions to reality? I’ve come up with a list of a couple of expectations I had, along with what has actually played out so far. (For the sake of this post, “adulthood” will be starting at age 18.)
- Expectation of going to college…at the University of Minnesota
College always felt like it was an expectation of me; I would have needed an incredibly good reason not to go to college. However, my expectation growing up was that I’d be going to the University of Minnesota. This made sense geographically since I’m from the Twin Cities, and having Gopher Football season tickets as a family also played a big role in this expectation. Minnesota was the front-runner in my college search as a high school senior, until I toured Bethel University. Entering as an engineering student, I would be pursuing a 3-2 program if I went to Bethel: three years at Bethel, and then 2 at an engineering school to finish the degree (Bethel didn’t have the resources or accreditation or something along those lines, so the program needed to be finished elsewhere). Along with the chance to attend a Christian university, I would still get the chance to go to Minnesota. After the money worked out for the first year, I chose to go to Bethel, and ended up graduating from there.
- Going into a math related field
As a junior and senior in high school, I took a class called ALP, which was a combined English and Social Studies credit. On day each year, recent graduates from the ALP class would return to tell the senior ALP class about their experiences outside of high school. The group typically only consisted of graduates from the previous year, but in my senior year there was an older former student who was back to talk to the class and visit his sister (who was a junior). This student told the story of starting at the University of Minnesota in the College of Science and Engineering, but realizing after a couple years that this wasn’t the field he wanted to pursue. He transferred into Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts to pursue the Humanities and Social Sciences; I don’t remember what specifically. I do remember thinking to myself, “Ha, that’ll never be me.” Two years later, after leaving Bethel’s engineering program for the math department, I was preparing to leave the math department for the humanities and social sciences. This meant 1. that I did not end up at the U of M, and 2. that I did not end up in a math related field. After my sophomore year, I had enough credits for a math minor, and I haven’t taken a math class since.
- Dating coming out of college
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
- Not leaving Minnesota
I had a serious expectation of staying in Minnesota for my entire life when I was younger. I couldn’t think of any reason why I would want to leave or any place I would want to go; Minnesota was my home. This mindset actually played a role in deciding whether to attend Denver Seminary. I ultimately chose to go, and went immediately after college because I knew it would be the best time for me to leave because it would be harder to uproot and move to Denver if I started setting down firm roots as an adult.
- Attending seminary
This one isn’t necessarily a childhood expectation, since I probably started pondering the possibility as a freshman in college. This was an expectation, that I did end up fulfilling, though I didn’t really know what that would mean when I was a college freshman.
Things I didn’t have an expectation about
Literally everything else.
I probably assumed I would still be alive and have basic necessities and get to stay up as late as I wanted and whatnot, but I didn’t really have a lot of expectations regarding a number of different things.
I started college as an engineering student, and at that point I thought I’d be an engineer in the space program, but between 9th and 12th grade I wanted to be an architect, meteorologist, musician, astronaut (seriously; the goal was to be the first person on Mars), and probably a number of things in between. Turns out, I probably won’t be any of those things any time soon.
If asked, I probably would have said that I expected to be married by 30, but I really don’t think I had a set number in mind. I also didn’t know about expectations with regards to children other than I would have some. I didn’t have a set number in mind. I didn’t know how old I expected to be when having them (or, rather, when my wife would be having them). I expected to have them after getting married, that there would be some time between the marriage and having kids, and I wanted to be young enough to do things like sports and other activities with them. *All of this stuff is still up in the air. I have no idea when any of this stuff will be happening, but probably not anytime soon.*
I expected to be in a middle class neighborhood, and part of me wanted my kids to go to the high school I went to, but I was open to being pretty much anywhere in suburban Minneapolis (yeah, I’m a west side of the river person). Didn’t have any thoughts about a house, though I did want a riding mower for a long time. Also, younger me did want a Ford Mustang, until I actually rode in one and decided I liked the outside a lot better than the inside.
Above all, though, the one thing that would have surprised younger me is how difficult being an adult can be. It takes a lot of work to get a job, provide for yourself, stay alive, etc., and I only have to take care of myself at the moment. I think I’ve discussed my aversion to do hard things (at least in passing) in the past, and a lot of that came from younger me. I didn’t realize that doing hard things would be both necessary and rewarding; I assumed that stuff would just be easy because being a kid was easy. Spoiler alert: being an adult is not easy kids.
Those were some of my childhood expectations of being an adult; at least, the ones I can remember. Feel free to share some expectations you had, whether they were accurate or not, and how it’s a good/not so good thing that those expectations were/n’t met.