I’m adultier than you!

This spring I wrote this post about the growth I’ve experienced at FFA Camp Muskingum. Now that the second season is coming to a close I think it’s about time for round two. Season one was all about me figuring out camp, and once I had an idea growing in confidence. This season, I realized I am an adult. It may seem like a strange realization, after all, every 18 year old dreams of being taken seriously as an adult, but there’s a difference between being an adult at school, and being an adult in “the real world”*.

No matter what anyone says, studying doesn’t prepare people for the real world. Although I was fortunate that my school promoted hands on learning, grades aren’t an automatic prediction on how someone will do outside of school. Most kids appreciate that I know the difference between a maple and oak leaf, but don’t care for the latin family name Quercus vs. Acer. True, it’s beneficial to have that extra knowledge, but mostly I like to pretend all those nights memorizing help me learn students’ names.

Things like memorizing, knowing how to step-by-step do a task are hard skills. Hard skills can be easily taught, but what I’ve found is that employers value soft skills such as working with a team, effective communication, and work ethic that can’t always be taught. Sometimes, even in times of stress, it’s best to make like Nike and just do it.

I work at a unique job where you won’t succeed if you aren’t a kid at heart, but that’s not an excuse to completely shirk adult responsibility. Sure, I can ask other instructors, my bosses, the nurse, and teachers for help if I need it, but often the instructors are the first people to see if there’s something wrong with a student. Keeping one’s head in a crisis is important. Kids are a reflection of the adult they are with. If someone can’t keep calm in a crisis, then the kids will get scared. If we exhibit behaviors that we don’t want to see from the students, then we can’t blame the kids for acting out.

As an introvert, I spend a lot of time observing, and learning from people. Sometimes it is tempting to compare my performance as an instructor to others, especially if I’ve had a chance to either co-lead a group with an instructor, or shadow them. It can be tempting to think that the technique isn’t mine, but from the person I learned it from. With really talented instructors, it can be hard to remember that they all started out in the same place. If I learned from them, they learned from someone else. At some point, I need to get used to the idea that I am also teaching others. If someone is going to give their opinion to others, they must also be willing to receive constructive criticism.

Adulting is hard. There’s moments where it’s intimidating. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual. But every mistake provides an opportunity to grow. If we’re open to learning, then we can be a stronger adult. I’m not exactly sure what my next steps will be after this season, but I’m willing to keep an open mind. Do I know yet if I’m coming back for a third season? Not really, but I know that where ever I end up, I’ll have an opportunity to continue to improve as an instructor. More importantly, I’ll always have opportunities to improve as an adult.

I didn't take many photos this season, but here's the  sheep that we affectionately called Shep until he found a new home.

I didn’t take many photos this season, but here’s the sheep that we affectionately called Shep until he found a new home.

*I work at camp, so maybe real world is a bit of a stretch.


  1. Adulting is *the worst*. No, really. Good luck with your decisions! I know you will make the right call no matter what – you got a darn good head on your shoulders. 🙂

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