The Mark of Adulthood

After a while
you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn love doesn’t mean leaning and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t always promises
and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and and your eyes ahead with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
And you learn that you really can endure, that you really are strong and you really do have worth and you learn and you learn
with every good-bye you learn.

Author: Veronica A. Shoffstall


I found this poem when I was maybe 19 years old, in a schmaltzy gift shop, located in a mall I worked in. There’s wisdom among glitter and ugly, at least sometimes.

It talked about not so much how to grow up, but the things you learn and who you become. I repeat some of those words to myself even now.

Yesterday was a kind of tough day. Not the end of the world, but a bit on the hard side.

Because after a while, somewhere in middle age, you learn how to spot oncoming drama. You spot it and you realize that you need to run from it, not gravitate toward it. You realize that a few days worth of sting and sadness is always going to be better than months of hurt and angst.

You learn that it’s ok to text your best friends and tell them that you need coffee and a cooky and a hug and that they will give you that and tell you that it will be ok.

You learn that even though you completely don’t want to, you will go and run on the treadmill and you will do it because you need to for the marathon and more than that you will feel better after.

And you go to sleep knowing that tomorrow is another day and it will bring it’s own share of joy and sorrow and just the stuff of every day life.

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2 Responses to The Mark of Adulthood

  1. Aunt Deb says:

    I carry one of those poems. Have for years and I found it in a catalogue of all places. Here’s mine:

    They may see the good you do as self serving.
    Continue to do good.

    They may see your generosity as grandstanding,
    Continue to be generous.

    They may see your warm and caring nature as a weakness.
    Continue to be warm and caring.

    For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.

    It never was between you and them anyway.

    Don’t know who wrote it, but I always thought it said something important to me.

  2. Chris says:

    And you learn how very, very important it is to HAVE friends like who you can text and say I need a hug and a cup of coffee or maybe a glass of wine because just knowing that, suddenly it’s better.

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