Our adulthood in this late stage of capitalism is not the adulthood our parents knew; the markers of adulthood, if they exist at all, are, for many of us, vastly different than they used to be. But that doesn’t mean we are not adults. And that doesn’t mean that our businesses are somehow inferior even if we don’t have all the obvious old markers of adulthood or our business do not have the same hallmarks as ‘established’ businesses. You are not inferior.

Also, handbills on lamp posts, and the disorientation of walking into one’s regular grocery store and finding that it has been rearranged.


@Absentia_Nova on the Gruen Transfer and autistic support needs levels:


full transcript and show notes here:



Leela Sinha 0:02

Hi everyone. I am trying so hard to feel like an adult. This problem is not unique to me and I know that many Xennials, Later Gen Xers, earlier Millennials are having the same problem. The milestones of adulthood that we grew up with, are no longer accessible to most of us. And so we don't know when we have achieved that thing called adulthood. But somehow here we are. Hand over hand like monkey bars making it through the world one moment, one day one bill at a time.

Some of us have had kids or weddings or partners, some of us have had problems with those kids or weddings, or partners. Some of us have bought houses, some of us have lost houses. Some of us have had careers, some of us have just had jobs, some of us have graduate educations, some of us look at that and decided that that was not a great way to spend one's energy or time or money or attention. Some of us are diehard capitalists, and some of us are hoping that capitalism comes to a rapid and complete end. It's a complicated world out there.

And because of all of those things, more of us are entrepreneurs in this weird, mushy online world pretty much than ever before. It's one thing to say: I sell chapstick. It's another thing to say: I sell a path to a better you or even a path to a better business without having concrete ROI, KPI, something, to point to. It's hard to quantify this ethereal work that happens mostly in the brain. This was true even when I was in the parish. In fact, I discovered as I was in the parish, that the most useful thing I could do with my spare time was something with my hands. So I could say, this morning, there was not a table and this afternoon, there is a table. And the reason that that is true is me.

To know, to see, to experience, to feel in my bones that I had done something concrete, something that wasn't made of sound waves, and light waves, and waving of the hands and changing of the brain chemistry. None of which, none of which I could see or hear or feel or taste or touch. I had to just believe. For someone with no faith, it was one of the hardest things to have faith in. And now the thing that I mostly have trouble having faith in is my own adulthood.

I am nearing 50, which with today's life expectancies is at least halfway through. And I do this thing with my age where I have always done this. I feel... I feel like a jump a few years into the future, and then I feel like I stay that age for maybe five years, six years, well past the point when I have actually crossed that line. And then I jump again forward. As an intensive, I suppose that's not that surprising. I age in bursts. The way I work in bursts. And then I rest and then I move forward again. At any rate, that's not how most people seem to experience time, but it's how time works for me. And it's especially how my existence feels on the inside. And so I'm approaching 50, and that feels completely unreal.

I keep telling myself when my parents were my age, they had a this-year-old kid; when my parents were my age, they had a house; when my parents were my age, they had all kinds of things. And for the most part, I haven't got any of them. I have a lot of intangibles. I have community that is to die for. I have skills. I have understandings of psychology, and neurology and group behavior. I have learned how to speak to, with, in front of people, none of which were skills I was born with. But I still don't feel like an adult. And I had this moment.

I had this moment when I was walking through a neighborhood near my neighborhood called Rockridge. Rockridge is is one of those old grand neighborhoods that grew up in the 1910s or so. And so it has lots of big fancy houses. Most of those, because of the era are four-square houses, with wide flat layouts and large porches and generous spaces to gather. And there's a little Market District where you can go to an actual butcher that's just a butcher and an actual grocery store. That's just a tiny little grocer. There's also a Safeway and a major bank and some other things. And a patisserie, boulangerie, if you need your bread beautiful and fresh.

There's a bagel shop that is renowned, and a few restaurants, a couple places to pick up coffee. It's one of the most functional market districts I've ever lived near, and certainly one of the most functional I've ever been able to walk to. And so I do walk to it often to do my shopping. As a sidebar, I recently found out that there's a whole name for that thing that grocery stores do when they reorganize themselves, so that you're confused when you walk in. Big box stores do it too, they deliberately disorient you so that you forget what you're there for.

And this is particularly impactful on people who are neurodivergent; people with ADHD, you can just imagine. Autistics who definitely want things to be the same, want things to be predictable, want things to make sense and when they don't? Anyway. So that's probably why, that's probably why I prefer to do my shopping at the small butcher, at the small grocer. At the small local shops. I also just on principle, prefer to do my shopping at the small local shops. And honestly, the big shops don't save me money.

So anyway, I was walking through Rockridge, and it's one of the few places that you can still find so many pedestrians that it's absolutely worthwhile to advertise your thing, your event, your service, whatever, by putting a poster up on a post. Like, take an eight and a half by 11 sheet of paper, print the thing you want to say and tape it to a post. People will see it, people will read it, people will tear off the little tear off sheets at the bottom. Outside of New York City. I haven't seen that work very much recently. But it works in Rockridge.

And so there was one of these posters. And I was walking, so I read it. And it said, "Rockridge kitchen tour". And I thought Rockridge kitchen tour that can't mean what it says. And then I read the rest of the poster, it does mean that it means that people open their homes so that you can see their gorgeous, beautiful kitchens and get ideas presumably for your own. And of course, this being Rockridge, some of the kitchens have been featured in major design magazines, which is wonderful and beautiful. And, and it's an incredible opportunity to see some of those designs up close in person to understand how they work in a three dimensional kinesthetic kind of way, which is the kind of thing that I usually love.

But I got hung up. I got hung up on the idea of having a home where you could invite strangers in to see your magazine-perfect kitchen. And I thought what kind of a life? And what kind of housekeeping? How How do you do that? How do you be the kind of person who can do that? Who can just say, Oh, yes, on Saturday, we'll have strangers traipsing through our house for six hours, that should be fine. That shouldn't be a problem. And you might like tidy up a couple of magazines and be done. And I realized in that moment that I was trapped in the same trap I was trapped in a number of years ago, when my car was a perpetual mess, like a complete mess.

And I realized that I had beliefs about the kind of person who had a clean car. Right now my car is a mess. But my car's a mess because there's not really enough storage space in my house. And so my car has turned into my auxiliary closet, which I think is a little different. I had plenty of storage space, I had a whole basement at the time that I made this realization. And I just started telling myself that I was the kind of person who could have a clean car.

That it didn't have to be that I had my whole life together that I didn't have to be like a soccer mom with, you know, a Lexus minivan with leather seats in order to qualify as the kind of person who has a clean car. In fact, I as me, could be the kind of person who had a clean car. That we could expand that definition. And then I realized that I was back in the same position of expanding definition that I was in when I became a minister, as a brown genderqueer, AFAB person. And that so many people, even in this day and age, did not expect someone who looked like me to be the minister.

But yet there I was being the minister. And I joke frequently about getting a button that says "this is what a minister looks like," because I get so frustrated that people think they know what a minister looks like, and that I'm not in that picture. So this is just, you know, this is what a minister looks like. This is what someone who has a clean car looks like. And now we're at this is what someone, this is what someone who can have a clean house looks like. But then we can flip it on its head, right?

It doesn't have to be a clean house that makes me an adult. Because that's the thing we have decided collectively as a culture that people who have the money and time and energy and ability- and I mean that in the disabled/abled sense- to maintain their lives in a certain way, are adults. And that's where we get this concept of adulting, which I've complained about before. But in fact, this is what adulthood looks like right now, in end-stage capitalism in the middle of 17 different things going wrong in the world, this is what adulthood looks like.

So if you, like me, have a whole bunch of chaos in your house and the neatest place in your house is behind your zoom camera. And everything else is a mess; if you, like me, have trouble getting the recycling out; if you, like me, sometimes get to the point where the clean laundry is piled in one pile and the dirty laundry is piled in another pile and you haven't done laundry and you're out of socks or underwear or T shirts- Currently, I run out of T shirts first. If you, like me, have to persuade yourself to do the dishes, even though you know intellectually that it will only take seven minutes because you've timed it. If you, like me, sometimes can't face more than one major work task or more than one major social task. If you, like me, are struggling to meet commitments that you really wanted to meet. And you simply cannot- you have to say "I can't, I'm sorry" to someone about something. You're an adult.

In fact, that is probably more like adulthood, than the people who can have their houses pristine at the drop of a hat for a home tour, to show off their beautiful kitchen. I am not saying that those people aren't adults or discounting the accomplishments and graces and privilege that allows people to get there because those things are all true. However, that version of adulthood does not cancel out this one. And that is what we need to know. And that is especially what we need to know when we are running a business. Because everybody knows that running a business feels a little bit like pretending that you can do something, at least at first.

And then you realize you can do the thing. And then you have to explain the thing in a way that makes other people recognize if and when they would like you to help them with that thing. Whether that thing is an object, like the new extendable multi-jointed phone-camera holding arm that I have. Or if that thing is a transformation, is a movement, is a kind of support, therapy, coaching, consulting. Or if it's a service. Just get someone else to do your digital stuff for you. Just get someone else to do it. You can't do everything.

But figuring all that out is adulting. It's adulthood. It's it's how we are adults. It's how we are business owners, right? Because all of this is really about that sense of impostering. And I don't want to use imposter syndrome because it's such a systemic thing. It's not your fault individually. It is the world telling you that you are not a real business owner until you're grossing a certain amount of money or netting a certain amount of money. It's the world telling you that you're not a real business owner if you're DIY-ing your website instead of hiring someone to do it. It's the world telling you that unless you're famous, unless you have a certain kind of media coverage, unless- that you're that you're somehow inferior.

You are not inferior. You are not less of a business owner your business is not less important. And you are not less of an adult. Thanks for tuning in.