People of a certain age will sometimes admit that they don’t feel like adults, even though they technically qualify for grown-up status. I have a great deal of sympathy for these folks, the temporally displaced. If you live, you can’t stop from getting older, even if you’re not ready for it, and I get that. It’s a tough situation. But it’s not one I ever found myself in.
I feel like an adult. I have done for a long time. I can’t tell you the exact day or date when it happened, but I know it happened when I was around twenty or so. I knew I was an adult when I internalized a number of facts that boil down to two simple lessons:
- It is my job to care for other people.
- On the other hand, nobody else gives a shit about me.
To expand, slightly: Lesson One means if someone needs help, and I have the ability to help, then I should help them. Lesson Two means that, regardless of the trouble that I get into, I should not expect anyone else to ever help me. To condense, again: You are on your own. But no one around you should be on theirs.
I don’t think that this is what adulthood should be for everybody. We all make our own journey. Some people don’t feel like grown ups until they have kids. Some never feel it. I’m just saying that this is the version of adulthood that I’m stuck with.
It seems like kind of a raw deal! Any deal where you are giving more than you’re taking can seem that way. And it’s not great for your mental health either. For one thing, it can lead to a kind of anxiety or paranoia; if you’re not careful, you might start to see other people as grasping vortexes of need. For another, you lack the comforting illusion that someone else might lift you out of any trouble you get into — which means that not only do you have the Bad Thing itself to deal with, but also the icy chill that grips your heart when you realize that no one is coming to the rescue, ever, ever, ever.
It’s a bad version of adulthood I’ve got here. Sometimes, I think I’d rather feel like a kid in a grown-up’s disguise. I’m sure that there are folks who have a much more reasonable view of the world that allows them to accept the aid of others, and that’s probably a healthier outlook. Then again, those folks probably also actually have others that they can rely on in their lives. That is also probably a healthier situation. But oh well, we play the hands we’re dealt, I guess.
It is tempting to try to change how I view adulthood, but it’s tough. Adulthood is set in its ways.