Thursday, September 18, 2014

Adult education

As a kid, I worried about growing up. Adulthood, to me, seemed like a switch that had to be flipped, where you didn't play outside anymore or read the funnies or care about much besides money and drinking beer. Or maybe you still were a kid at heart, but you kept it to yourself or were looked down upon for it. Every time I pictured myself as an adult, I'd be wearing a suit or work uniform, an image that I couldn't reconcile with doing any of the things I didn't think I'd yet be ready to give up.

This image became a little more fluid as I entered my teens. The idea of owning a car and possibly a house and having a girlfriend or wife appealed to me, but wearing a suit, worrying about money and being serious still didn't. At that age, it seemed like there was room to be older and still be who I was.

Later still, as I grew to realize that being older is more of a gradual function of time than an act of switch-flipping, I decided I could just be me and chuck every other expectation. Yes, I would be responsible — I would work, pay my bills/taxes and take care of whatever needed taking care of. And I would never stop reading, learning and maturing. But other than that, I would still be the same person I always was — a kid who likes to ride my bike, collect license plates and write sometimes-ridiculous things. One who isn't overly obsessed with the things that earn one the Adult Card, unless such trappings converge with my wants and needs.

Many people, both my age and older, lament my line of thinking. They think that's today's young adults aren't sufficiently capital-A Adult, in life choices or mannerisms (and are torn on whether that's good or bad). Many times when I hear the specific criticisms, I think they could be directed at me. I couldn't care less. Some of it sounds out of touch, and some of it sounds like simple jealousy.

The way I see it, the alleged death of the adult is something to celebrate. It's admirable to hold on to what sustains you even when life, age and obligations get in the way. People are far more interesting when they don't, to quote the Bible and many a prude, put away childish things.

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