Adulthood begins at 26, researchers say. Thank God. That means I’m not as inept as I thought. I’ve got four years before I have to know what I’m doing.

Last Friday I went to a conference with my boss, Jason, on business philanthropy. It was held at a nice Hilton hotel (one with many fountains and miles of unassuming but elegant carpet) and it featured the U.S. secretary of commerce as keynote speaker. This was very much a business-y adult event, even though many people from nonprofits were there.

Women wore what seemed to be a uniform — a black suit with a pastel top underneath. Was the Hilton handing that outfit out at the door? I just could not pull off the adult look. My skirt was too casual and flowery, my hair didn’t have any kind of style, and I just couldn’t walk comfortably in my high-heeled sandals. I also could not help but be annoyed at all of the cheery small talk. I can only smile so long before my face hurts.

I went straight from there to a meeting of other AmeriCorps VISTA members. I walked in and immediately — relief. Everyone was slouched in their chairs wearing t-shirts and jeans, looking skeptically at the people talking. My crowd.

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