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The Myth of the Adult

I am halfway through my 25th year of life. I look in the mirror at my eyes surrounded by wrinkles and sinking into bags.  I don’t quite resemble a raccoon but the pigment around them is darker than the pale complexion of the rest of my face.  I feel exhausted most of the time and cannot decide whether I truly feel tired or whether I am just bored.

It seems like just yesterday that I looked at the world with a great deal of wonder and through a more vigorous lens. Classmates in schools shared the same excitement writing essays about ‘What I want to be when I grow up’ and later ‘How I can help change the world when I become a [insert desired career here]’.  It was as if we were told that so many of the questions of our young lives would be answered by simply deciding upon a profession and to have a career in it.  

I am 25 and I have more questions than I’ve ever had.  I’ve decided on a profession and while my career is young it is blooming.  It is not fulfilling in the way I thought it would be. I am not anxious about bills, nor do I have much debt, yet I am worried.  I look around with my tired adult eyes and see that this concern is shared by many my age and in my generation.

I see that as a child I was taught that the adult is mature, self-assured and can be relied upon.  It seems now that I look around only to find that these adults were really children all along.  Where there was a sandbox there is now an office, a construction site or an airplane cockpit.  Rumours circulate from one ear to another via email or telephone call.  Small differences spark arguments and eventually wars where once there was a schoolyard fight.

I am no better than the next ‘adult’.  I ignore the kid crying on the corner with a bloody nose the same as the next passerby. I jingle change in my pocket when I walk up to the beer store as excitedly as I once did when approaching the convenience store for candy.  I toss a few pennies into the Unicef collection tin this October and a memory forces guilt upon me – when I was a kid I wore a box around my neck for that same company on Halloween night.  Not out of duty but because the school had the program.  I boasted about my eight bags of candy to the other kids at school the next day.

I am that same silly child I always was.  I see that these ‘adults’ around us are children too – just of different generations.  The contentedness I observed was not what I thought it was.  Our taste in candy has simply changed.

Categories: Opinions
  1. October 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    As babies/children we learn that our parents are always right – we’re constantly developing and have no way of knowing any better. As that progresses and we start experiencing the world, suddenly and ostensibly ALL adults seem to know better than us. That is a very dangerous belief to ingrain into a youngster. We grow up thinking adults are smart. “Respect your elders” is presumably because they know things? They know things so they are smart and know best?
    One of the biggest disillusions suffered in my journey into adulthood (and still struggling with) is that most people aren’t as smart as I believed they SHOULD be. By no means do I believe everyone is dumb (that term is more applicable to masses of people) but the perceived limited thinking capacity of Joe Six-Pack bewilders me. I often wonder how they get through day to day life with what I perceive as a relatively blank mind. Maybe I am just jealous they have a stillness of mind. I try to surround myself with engaging individuals to prevent losing all faith in the world – so far so good. I’ve discovered everyone is strange – quirks abound! Discovering what’s strange about yourself is an interesting experience. Embracing the positives is just downright fun but trying to fix the negatives can be downright hell.
    Just as the gym-class version of sex-ed doesn’t prepare you for all the complicated ins-and-outs (pun fully intended) of being sexually active, formal education teaches you first and foremost how to think where the understood and understated aspect of social interaction is purely experienced and cannot be explicitly taught (can it?). It’s a frustrating learning experience – just as we were frustrated as kids discovering things as we went. We’re all kids. We still get giddy for simple pleasures (pho, beer, steak, xbox, Ryan Seacrest, etc). We’re all large children putting on our big-boy/girl clothes and playing life, muddling our way through as best we can, for better or worse.

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