I Don’t Know How to Ride a Bike

Excuse me, but I am going to puzzle something out for myself tonight.

Right now in my life, I am currently at the stage called “emerging adulthood.” It is a phenomenon in which hordes of college graduates who have been tricked by the economy into earning a degree and allowing themselves to fall thousands of dollars in debt, must humiliate themselves by living in their old room at their parents’ house with the Orlando Bloom posters they had in high school, struggling to be financially independent.

And while my parents don’t call me a failure, I sure feel like one. Shouldn’t I have it figured out by now? Shouldn’t I feel like I’m working towards something? Shouldn’t I stop eating clementines lovingly peeled by my mother because I don’t have fingernails?

These thoughts plague me every night, when I sleep in the room I grew up in.

Until it was pointed out to me that while “emerging adulthood” is a relatively new phase of human life (at least in America), so too is childhood. Allowing yourself to savor the time you had when you were young has only become a rite of passage since industrialization. Before that, it was all work and well, yeah, just work. You were a full-time employee on your parents’ farm before you hit puberty. So, it is only recently that we’ve started to appreciate that time between birth and the first death (my cute nickname for adulthood.)

So, I thought, maybe to get out of this weird funk where I can’t figure out what I should be doing with the rest of my life, I need to take a look back at what I did before, in childhood.

And what I realized was that I struggled in childhood with the same restlessness as I feel now. Like most things in life, it’s just another cycle.

You see, I came out of the womb at 30 years old. And I’ve been trying to fit in ever since. I really tried to be a kid. I made “backyard soup” (but refused to eat it.) I climbed trees (well, I climbed the first branch.)  I played on the jungle gym (okay, it was the swings.) But it never really worked for me.

So my last chance to redeem myself and become a normal kid? I had to learn how to ride a bike. All kids my age had “wheels” before they ever had a car. Me? Sure, I had wheels. Training wheels. And then when my parents took them off, I was hopeless.

I’ve had people try to teach me. And I’d ride on two wheels for about 10 minutes, and then I would freak out and think that I was going to swerve into traffic and jump off. So, any bike that I own will remain riderless, probably for the rest of my life.

So, what’s the point? I was a childhood failure and now I’m not surprising anyone by continuing to be a failure in adulthood, too?

Perhaps. Well, probably. But we all have the opportunity to succeed, no matter how many times we’ve failed in the past. We all have a chance at success in the future. Multiple opportunities and chances, in fact.

I chose to not learn how to ride a bike because I never got back on one. But I am not choosing to stop pursuing what I want out of my life. It may be too late for me to learn how to ride a bike, but it will never be too late for me to succeed at everything else.

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