1/12/16

I'm An Adult . . .

So there was this truly terrific (but truly long) read from The Atlantic the other day called "When Are You Really An Adult?" Go read it. I'll wait. No? You won't read it? Fine - but that is one indicator that you might not really be an "adult".  But I'll paraphrase and save you the trouble. The gist is that there are no longer any rules or absolutes for when one becomes an adult (as if there ever were - remember when Americans finished a formal education at age ten, had a wife by thirteen and were dead by thirty? Know how many cultures/societies in the world still follow that approximate timeline?).

Sure, sure - there are indicators . . . graduating (or deciding not to), getting a job (or not), moving back home (or getting your first place), flopping those two arrangements, getting married, getting a tattoo, getting a credit card, getting a debt counselor, getting a divorce, getting a kid - on purpose, etc. etc. etc. 

But there is also more and more research to show that none of these things makes you an adult and we're seemingly, as a society, accepting there never will be - and perhaps there never were. One SUPER helpful millennial (with a blog called "adulting" (totes presh, no?) and a book with the most charming and evocative title ("Adulting: How to Become an Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps") even goes so far as to acknowledge that this slight/indignance is not even unique to the current crop of can't-figure-it-outs (aka "Millennials"). She concedes . . . . 
“It’s not just hard for Millennials, I think it was hard for Gen X-ers, I think it was hard for Baby Boomers. All of a sudden you’re out in the world, and you have this insane array of options, but you don’t know which you should take. There’s all these things your mom and dad told you, presumably, and yet you’re living like a feral wolf, who doesn’t have toilet paper, who’s using Arby’s napkins instead.”
That's terrific and funny and charming and quaint and so big of her. Ugh. I digress (and should get in to the part where I claim to be above and more mature than mocking a stranger for trying to be funny - and if Kelly Williams Brown has her Google Alerts on point and sees this - I'll say OPENLY that I actually laughed very hard at much of the things I read on your blog and think you're on to something and we have a very similar approach to life and owning our lives so don't hate me for being an old curmudgeon (vs. "adult")).

Here's the thing . . . I don't WANT there to be an absolute on when one "becomes" an adult. I don't want it to be based on boobs or pubes. I don't want it to be based on debt or sweat. I don't want it to be based on pay stubs or cherubs. I want it to be something we can and will chose to own - noting that we should all chose to own it and that, once owned, it is forever. 

You want to be a 20-something who writes books that people in their 60s can be inspired by (which is a real thing the above blogger/author/journalist)? Go for it. You want to be an 80-year-old Grandmother talking trash to your grandson? Have at. You want to be a 39-year-old divorced man with a kid and a fiancee and a mortgage and a job in middle management marketing for a hospitality company? I FULLY endorse that lifestyle but here's what all three of you above folks (and those in their sphere of influence) should know . . . none of that is "being" an adult. 

BEING an adult is what allows you to have and process and share and borrow and give and take all those things. An adult, I will argue, is a person who's had experiences and learned from and contextualized from them and who can then, in turn, share them and pay them forward. They are like teachers without the horrible pay, and weight of the world on them. They are like clergy without the G-d. They are like doctors without the letters and 'script pads. They are like real people without the need to label themselves as anything to feel comfortable with who they are.

I'm an adult. And, as an adult, I get to blog here and talk trash there and act whatever way I want. I'm going to own my commitments, I'm going to own my words, I'm going to own the repercussions, I'm going to be over here if anyone wants to chat about the above and not toil as long as I did on my way to ownership.