Adulting — What I Learned from a Black Lab named Triss


My brother’s dog passed away last month.

When you see the romanticized pictures of dog ownership on TV commercials, you’re getting a glimpse of life with Triss.

She was the sweetest dog who loved to romp in mud, ponds, or snow.  A car ride was a special treat, and if she really liked you, she would forget that she was no longer a puppy and would crawl into your lap, nearly crushing you.

But the final lesson that she taught me was about fear and adulting

The last time I saw Triss, I was visiting my brother in Pennsylvania to attend a wedding.  As I sat around the living room with he and his wife (and Triss), my brother pulled the lever on his recliner and leaned back.  Triss immediately cowered and, never taking her eyes off the chair, retreated to the safety of the far side of the room, near my sister-in-law.

I gave my brother the “what gives” look?

He chuckled and said, “When Triss was little, the chair ate her.”

As a puppy she’d crawled under the fully reclined chair unbeknownst to its occupant. When said occupant closed up the chair and stood up, the adorable puppy was stuck and terrified until everyone realized what had happened and freed her.

She carried that fear to her death.

She carried that fear, even though as an adult, there was no rational reason to persist in it.

Did anyone else just get punched in the side of the head by a dog?

I’m 51 so I’ve been adulting for 30 plus years.

At times in my mind, I am still the too skinny, under-dressed, nerdy youngest child cowering in fear and hoping for the world’s approval.

This despite the fact that I am successful, get along well with people, and am a long ways from too skinny.

When I pray for people, I am amazed at the number of times that God simply wants them to be reminded of the truth of they are or let me remind you.

You’re a capable, wonderful adult and the world needs you to be who you were meant to be.

We, the other adults who you think have it together, welcome you with open arms.

There are two things we know:

  1. You have gifts that we don’t have and we need.
  2. We know that life is hard even though we look at you and are jealous of who you are.

We know that even if you are beautiful or ripped that you still wish that people would say kind things about you instead of commenting on your bad hair day.

We know that you still forget to do things like pay a bill or take the trash cans to the street.

It’s okay. We’re all doing the best we can. And we all screw up every day.

You won’t ever get a whole day perfect or master anything exactly the way you want it to be.

Don’t confuse that with the fact that life is good and that you are an amazing person.

Don’t let the fear that you remember from when you got laughed at in sixth grade (or last week) because you had a bad hair day keep you from ignoring your hair and going to the movies with friends.

Don’t let the 7th grade Christmas party keep you from showing up at game night at your friend’s house.

Don’t let the rude person from last Thursday keep you from stopping to help the stranger today.

You don’t need to be the terrified puppy under the chair. Understand the reasons for your fear and laugh at them.  They aren’t real any more.

My brother chuckled at Triss’s fear because it was so obviously not something she needed to worry about any more.

At 51, I need to sit down and make a list of my own leftover fears and have a good laugh at my childhood self.

And then get back to adulting in the way I want my life to look.

Share your thoughts or fears or left over emotional foibles of youth in the comments!

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