After a very few trying weeks, and a few more ahead, I realized that being an adult was not easy. Not only because it comes with a lot of quantifiable responsibilities but because a lot of people don’t realize that their opinions and thoughts can carry and place a crushing weight on others. We place expectations on our peers based on the incorrect notion that at some point, or some age, you reach a maturity level that makes one reliable, dependable and respectable. That this maturity will make you follow the rules and care about humankind. Boy is that wrong! Adulthood is a time for hard choices and enlightening moments influenced by so many variables it is illogical to think that it is as simple as turning 18 or 21…
Adulting, as the 20 year old kids call it, is a satire of adulthood. In a mix of cynism and sarcasm, the definition limits itself by referring only to paying bills, having a job or doing things archetypal adults are known to pursue. It is used, in pure jest, to mock those who manage to navigate adulthood successfully. The use of this word is a telltale sign of the discomfort and fright maturing and getting older has on the younger generations. It is as if learning to become better, faster, stronger, and smarter became unachievable, or that striving to be more open minded and selective but cautious is relegated to a special contingent of society. There is always a need to have an adultier adult present. We/they don’t want to be it. We/they can’t hack it and hate the idea of growing up because there is nothing fun about this new stage of life. How did the old people get through it? Did they fake it?
Adulting comes with a lot of angst and frustration. It is a time when most of us are deciding what type of person we want to become and oftentimes, we project a conflicting version into the world. Defining ourselves requires an introspective evaluate of our life’s choices, our skills and weaknesses that not many can handle. It can be daunting to start a plan to either recover, make amends with or improve our quality of life. When or if kids arrive, things get complicated because we develop the mindset of setting them up to succeed, giving them all the opportunities we had, and some that we didn’t to accomplish their dreams and desires. Rearing furure adults is not an easy undertaking; we must teach ourselves and our heirs to own up to the fact that our free will affects others and that our rights as citizens come with duties and limitations. We are not an island nor we should want to act this way. Being civilized requires that we put others’ needs above our own. This goes beyond sharing and being nice. It puts the burden on us to comply because we can and have to, not because we want to.
The problem with this line of thought is that it forgets to include that all the changes and sacrifices we go through as we grow older and wiser are not voluntary. Sometimes shit happens and alters our idea of the greater good, impacting our psyche. Everyone’s capacity to process data and experience reality is so different we all get lost along our way. Misunderstanding happen. Values and actions shift. The many rock bottoms we will face, coupled with our losses, will skew our perspective of reality and its expectations. Even as an adult we will make poor judgement calls and execute plans that will harm ourselves and our relationship with the world. This is how phobias and biases are form, entering the playing field and ruining the game. The handicaps that result from these failed attempts at coexisting are used as excuses or reasons to create new laws, rules and regulations that affect us all even if the situation didn’t apply to us. People that cannot relate to the sentiment behind the policy switch will resort to breaking the new rules or laws, and due to lack of personnel and self control to enforce them, they will not be punished or prosecuted. It is this loophole the one through which people hang their hope of being right, even when they aren’t because no one informed them, that ends up destroying the peace. This is where a lot of our inequity and inequality issues arise: We all want to be different and not treated the same way yet we are considered equal under the laws of men. Don’t even get me started on what misplaced and misinformed faith can due to very capable adults. It’s devastatingly blinding.
All of these reasons are why I have a beef with adulting; it isn’t appealing or easy to carry out. No matter how much I save or plan ahead misery and misfortune always find me (in my own way and definition of what those are to a person of privileged). Every day I struggle to do what is right, was matters and what will make a dent in our world. Adulting to me is a bit more complex that just getting out of bed or going to work. It is about making the future better for everyone on this rock. It is a never ending quest to evaluate my self, my goals, my strengths and my shortcomings to determine what is and isn’t worth pursuing. From my end, it requires that I fight against other’s biases and imposed limitations on my gender and cultural background, adding on the weariness of representing an entire subset of people: women in STEM. So far, the burden of having to prove myself to the men in my field hasn’t been insurmountable but it has come at a great personal toll. There is a limited amount of confidence and pride that I can expend due to my introvertedness and the energy stockpiles get depleted quickly.
If you ask me, one doesn’t become a responsible adult at 18, or at any age for that matter. At best, you become an independent member of society that is armed with some basic education to survive. There is no certificate or course one can take to prove you are successfully adulting, let alone prove that one can function highly in today’s environment. We are released into the world and left to our own devices. It is up to us to rise to the challenge and help each other find what we need to develop our full potential. If not, we are truly alone in this endeavor, and a faux pas can end up costing many precious lives. I am appalled thay society doesn’t educate us as we come of age on the basic tasks we need to make it on our own. Beyond taxes and cooking, math and science, we should all be given the instruction necessary to take stock of our true value and apply our talents fully. Unengaging work and expectations have turned off an entire generation that only wants a chance at a fulfilling existence. Hopefully we won’t have to adult anymore and we can actually grow into our natural roles and assume power in a way our inner child would be proud. After all, that kid had been dreaming for more than this provincial life. 😉