Profile No. 19: Brett Manero

Profiles in the Gap

Brett Manero

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Brett Manero is a young professional and Theology student living in Washington, DC.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

Hmm, yes and no. Yes, because I knew that I’d need (and want) my 20s to be a time of exploring, growing, and preparing. No, because like the rest of us, part of me imagined that I’d be settled by now! But thank goodness I’m not, because I know that being single at this very moment is exactly what I’m supposed to be. It’s a perfect place to say, “Lord, here I am, I come to do your will.” And knowing Him — He’s full of surprises.

Is it what you expected it to be? If not, what did you expect, and has the change been exciting or disappointing?

Right after my college graduation, I stayed in Scotland (where I studied for my undergraduate) to work for six months. I remember praying one evening and almost catching a glimpse of my coming 20-something’s, and what a roller coaster ride it would be. I knew it would be a time of “changing seasons” — different career experiments, grad school, relationships, friendships, etc. I knew it would feel tumultuous at times — that it could be a time of great excitement and joy, but also great challenges and disappointments. I wrote a short story shortly after college about going through your 20s; in it I describe it as a “lonely decade.” Lonely, because you’re not quite settled on things like vocation and career yet, and “getting there” can be quite a hike. But that’s part of the fun.

Overall, it’s been as I expected it to be. However, I certainly never expected to live in Washington, DC. My older brother and sister lived here and I didn’t want to “follow in their footsteps” by moving here. But, as often happens, God had a different plan — and here I am, and I can totally see why I’ve been here.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career? If so, can you elaborate? If not, where do you seek / find it?

Absolutely. I work for the Church, so the work we do is of course fulfilling. Getting to know so many other young Catholics through work has been a phenomenal blessing. When I eventually am working in a secular environment, that transition from being around the Blessed Sacrament and a Catholic presence all day will be weird! But we’re called to go out into the world to share our faith — in the workplace especially. Pope Francis has reminded me quite a bit about that.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook on your life as a single young adult?

My faith guides my life! Being Catholic is awesome. I came back to the faith during my college years after growing up as a “halfway Catholic.” I can’t imagine life without it. Trusting in God — that He’ll guide and provide — is key.

“Build Up For the Future.”

My best friend in college, a Protestant, said this to me years back. I see my 20s as a sort of “springboard” for the rest of my life — to grow spiritually and professionally, to prepare for my vocation in the long-run.

One of the best pieces of advice my spiritual director gave to me a few years ago was: “Pray the Rosary for your future spouse. Offer it up as a sacrifice for her.” So, a few days a week I offer that prayer.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that, with God, it’s impossible to predict the future. He is so full of surprises and loves to open (and close) doors for us. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now — still in DC, somewhere else — but I try not to stress too much about it. He’s got it covered.

If you didn’t have to worry about failure, what would you do with this time that you might be putting off out of fear?

So much to choose from. I would travel again. I’d go on some kind of a missions trip to the Middle East to help the persecuted Christians there.

Vita est pulchra! (Life is beautiful)

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I’m grown up.

This question has come up in several of my conversations over the past several weeks, so I’m putting it here to get your thoughts.

When can we stop calling ourselves “young” adults and simply be adults?

Is the transition to “actual” adulthood marked only by marriage and having babies, or can we acknowledge some other markers of adulthood in a society increasingly marrying later? Do I have to live my life on pause because I haven’t yet met someone I’d like to spend the rest of it with? I’m willing to assume marrying and having children aren’t the only markers of adulthood, as I know plenty of very grown-up people who are neither married nor parents.

So I can only suppose that being a full-fledged adult — as opposed to a young adult or, if you prefer the politically correct and currently acceptable terminology, an “emerging adult” — boils down to deciding it’s time to take the proverbial bull by the horns and BE one already.

I moved away from home almost 10 years ago. I graduated from college and entered the American workforce. I passed all the age milestones — 18, 21, and 25 (the last milestone being the ability to rent a car at standard prices. Oh, the things we wait for…).

I am an adult.

I have a full-time job.
I pay monthly rent and have my name on a lease.
I pay taxes. Lots and lots of taxes.
I also pay into Social Security. You’re welcome.
I own a car, which I have to take in for regular oil changes and inspections and tire rotations and fluid replacements.
I am fully responsible for buying my own dish soap, shampoo, bedding, clothing, furniture, kitchen utensils, groceries, and anything and everything else that people who are grown up have to provide for themselves.
I have insurance.
I pay for my own phone plan.
I save for retirement.
I worry about the future.
I’m responsible for making and keeping my own dental, vision, and doctor appointments.
I cook for myself and mow my own lawn.
I set up appointments as needed with the plumber, carpenter, locksmith, exterminator, and any other speciality worker who comes in to fix things around the house that get broken.
I volunteer my time at church and in the local community and make it a point to be there for family and friends.

Do any of these responsibilities add up to the responsibility of being a parent? Admittedly, no. Does that make them somehow not “real” responsibilities? Well, how about I just pretend they’re not real for a few weeks, and I’ll let you know how that goes…from my parents’ house or my grandmother’s basement, where I’ll be living after I lose my job and can’t pay my own bills anymore.

Being an adult is not a matter of all the right external circumstances magically falling into place around you. (I may never get married. Does that mean I’ll never grow up?) Nor is it simply living by a list of responsibilities, be they raising children or just dragging yourself to and from work every day. I’ve known plenty of parents who needed to grow up. I also encounter plenty of people my age who never got around to taking full responsibility for the fact of their adulthood. At the end of the day, being an adult boils down to deciding to be one, and then acting like it.

I am not old or wise, and I admit that. I got nothin’ on my friends who are married and raising children. But I’m calling it, people. I’m an adult.

From now on I’m dropping the extra label and just telling it like it is.

–Mabel