WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ADULT?
The other day Nico and I, as we often do, chatted casually about the meaning of life. On this particular occasion we both commented on the fact that a sort of shift appears to have recently taken place in our souls. A veil has been lifted, or maybe it’s a new sense of understanding that has settled.
She suggested that perhaps it’s because our brains are fully developed (or nearing that point); that we’re far enough along on the path of our physiological development that we’ve finally acquired those last missing parts that make up the fully functional adult brain.
In reflecting with her I became conscious of the fact that up until now I had been living a series of ups and downs, coloured by intense periods of uncertainty, insecurity and hopelessness. Of course I still experience a lot of those things now - life is inherently built on the law of every positive having a negative – but I feel as though I now have more conscious control than ever before over how deeply, or how long I allow these things to affect me. As though I can step back and just be, you know? It’s as if in my teenage years I was totally at the mercy of my crazed hormones and the perceived authority of the fascist adult dictators at home, at school, between myself and whatever it is I perceived as wanting/needing for my survival. In hindsight, this perception is not at all surprising.
What tearful, yet hilarious memories. High school dances, first brushes with penises, end-of-the-world arguments with parents about wanting money to spend at Starbucks.
I remember having rage attacks, panic attacks, manic episodes of bipolarism, suicidal tendencies, and the whole of my being, my reason to live, would be completely destroyed by the slightest disruption, always at the hand of some external, all-powerful source.
It’s not that now either of us now know why we’re here. I’m sure you don’t either (if you do, hit us up, we’d love to know). It’s more like perhaps now that our brains have fully developed (or nearly), and the knowing that, “I guess we might be here for a while longer, might as well accept that” has sunk in.
As adults, as humans, we’re responsible for ourselves in this world. The tides have turned. No longer are we at the mercy of anything or anyone else; we’re at the mercy of ourselves. Even when seemingly random, totally awful occurrences happen to us (which often do) it is entirely our responsibility to surrender to them and keep going. If we get caught up emotionally, physically, or mentally with negativity, our progress is stunted for however long it takes for us to “get over it.” This is one of the easiest, yet most difficult truths.
One of the things that I rejoiced in when I first moved to France is that the age of “youth” there tops out at 26. I was all, “Fuck yeah! cheap train/movie/museum tickets for my 25-year-old self!” What a pleasant surprise! In North America, after 18, it’s too bad for you, unless you’re a student (with the documentation and tuition bills to match). Consequently, I’ve been out of the “youth” category for a number of years and paying full price for anything is just as lame as it sounds.
And that’s exactly it. What makes 18 the magic number? Or 26 for that matter? Maybe that's the wrong question to be asking.
What do you feel is the determinate factor of being an “adult”?
Depending on where you live there are specific ages that determine when you’re allowed to drive a car, buy lottery tickets, watch pornography, smoke cigarettes, join the army, or all of the above at the same time. With many people graduating from university tens of thousands of dollars in debt and no “real life” experience, it could end up being in their late 20’s or even 30’s before they land a steady “adult” job, or at least one with a half-decent salary that allows them to pay their bills and maybe save up for a down-payment on an apartment (or maybe just got to the dentist once in awhile).
But that’s all just numbers and illusions.
Being an adult, being a human, is acknowledging your position in the world of forms, which are governed by time, yet knowing your connection to the eternal and finding groundedness in that connection.
Everything dissolves; everything is destroyed; everything is temporary. Joy, sadness, money, love, life. All of it comes to an end, often – and I’d dare say always – much quicker than we’d like.
For me, brain development or not, it is this knowing that marks my adulthood. I can no longer throw my hands up and cry “The world is so unjust! Everything and everyone is against me!” unless in extreme cases of melodramatic irony (and even then probably not) when I find myself wanting of an excuse to spend 3 days in bed.
How about you, kitty cats? How’s your brain development going? What do you define as being an adult?