Do you ever hear people complain about being an adult? It happens all the time! People often claim they "don't want to be an adult" or they "can't adult today". There seems to be an ever growing number of people who want to take a pass on their grown-up status to hide in a pillow fort, avoiding the world instead.
But every time I hear it, I can't help but think about exactly how full of bullshit that sentiment is.
I'm not denying that life gets tough sometimes. It sure fucking does!
Wanting a break from the relentless parade of responsibility and decision making is completely understandable. Sometimes we need to ask for help or take some personal space. Feeling lost or tired is acceptable. Regressing into an overgrown child is not... unless that's your "thing".
The war on adulthood is often accompanied by a pining to re experience youth.
As adults it's easy to envy children. They remind us of a time when we didn't need to meet the demands of society because society wanted little to nothing from us. We didn't have to make very many decisions or go to meetings. We didn't really have jobs to or worry and, for the most part, we just did whatever made us really fucking happy.
As we get older, these things often fade.
Life becomes more complicated and begins to require more work than it used to. People expect things from us. We begin accumulate all these responsibilities and obligations and junk. We spend more time doing things and going places that we don't always enjoy or worse... that make us miserable. We've now become adults and everything sucks.
But let's look at the actual definition of "adult", shall we?
1. fully developed physically; full-grown.
"she was now a mature woman"
As well as physically mature, this means emotional maturity.
It means that you're able to manage your own emotions and navigate the world without being a giant dick to the other people in it.
Being mature doesn't mean that you're not allowed to build pillow forts or watch cartoons.
It means that if someone thinks that your fort is ridiculous you say "I do what I want, I'm an adult. Also, fuck you, you're just jealous!" Also, you know that when the fort comes down, you're the one cleaning it up (unless you have a maid or something?)
1. a person who is fully grown or developed.
"children must be accompanied by an adult"
Being an adult means that you're capable of accepting personal responsibility.
Children must be accompanied by and adult, however, a "responsible adult" can do as they damn well please.
Personal responsibility gives you control of your life.
This mean you can do something about those responsibilities and expectations you don't like! Dreading that party? Don't go. Hate your job? Find a new one. Can't stand your home? Move.
Personal responsibility means that you take responsibility for your actions.
Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you have to pay bills. It's a choice. You CAN let them go to collections and if you choose to do that then you should handle the consequences like and adult rather than playing the victim like a child.
Alternatively, to avoid bills you could live off the grid or become a hermit in the wilderness. Options! You might not like them but they exist.
However, there are some things in life that even the powers of being an adult can't change.
For example, if you're not living off the grid or are currently a hermit in the wilderness, you will probably have to do things like pay bills. Whatever lifestyle you lead will come with some unavoidable things which might rub you the wrong way sometimes but if you take a second to frame them in a different light... suddenly they don't seem so bad. They are side effects of the lifestyle you CHOSE.
And the harsh truth is that, whether you like it or not, you're an adult now. Time has done it's thing and this is a mark of the fact that you're not dead. So.... congratulations. Now deal with it because whining about it isn't going to make this one go away.
No, being an adult isn't always sunshine and rainbows. It comes with some extra complications but it also comes with an insane amount of freedom. When people lose sight of this fact and allow themselves to be buried in the social norms and day to day monotony, they start to feel like they got ripped off.
When people complain about being an adult, often they're actually complaining about having to make so many decisions for themselves. Yes, having to make so many decisions everyday is exhausting and sometimes terrifying... but I never trade it in to be a kid again.
When we were kids we never got to decide where we were went on vacation or what was for dinner. We didn't get to decide what clothes, pets or gadgets we owned. We didn't have a lot of control over who we spent our time with or how we spent it. When we were kids we had bed times and school schedules... OK, as a grown up you still might have those but it is by choice now.
So perhaps, instead of looking at adulthood as an accumulation of responsibilities and expectations, we should start looking at adulthood as having (hopefully) learned emotional maturity and personal responsibility.
Being an adult is sweet. Let's embrace being able call the shots in our own adventures and having intelligent conversations. Let's allow ourselves to express our inner child without rejecting our adulthood. Let's stop playing the victim of our responsibilities and instead accept how much power we have in being able to decide. Let's be a grown ups about this.
Or don't. I'm not your mom.