Thoughts On 'Adulthood'
As kids many of us will have remembered dreaming about what it will be like in the future when we grow up; some of us even longed for this magical thing known as “adulthood” to come around so that we could be like those who we looked up to.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, nor is there anything absurd about fearing growing up either, but the idea of “adulthood” has definitely been on my mind more prominently lately, hence why I have chosen to write about it. 20 years old is by no means an age which can be considered as “old” but it is, however, an age where I am deemed to be a “young adult”. And you know what? It’s weird. I guess when I was younger and I thought about adulthood I expected it to be something different but so far it feels exactly the same as before except for the fact that I am apparently more responsible and have access to greater freedom.
For instance, I am allowed to drive and get a job, I’m allowed to go out by myself whereas I couldn’t when I was younger and I’m allowed to order alcohol (in this country) if I were to wish. Since I’m 20 too it means that people are going to be more likely to measure me against some sort of expectation, such as in regards to accountability. As an adult you are expected to act in a way which is more mature and thought out than that of a “reckless teen” or of a child who is “too young to know any better”.
Adults are also expected to be more independent than that of lower age groups. When I was younger and needed to make a phone call my mum would make it for me and when I was a kid she would leave a packed lunch out for me before walking me over to school. Now, on the other hand, I take calls and arrange meetings by myself, I do my own budgeting, rent and groceries whilst living away at university and if I want to go somewhere I need to sort out my own means of transportation. On top of this I will also be balancing extracurriculars with my resume in mind, a part-time job, a relationship and house hunting for next year simultaneously alongside private matters and my second-year studies.
When I type it out like that the stark contrast between adulthood and younger years becomes blatantly apparent, which leaves me feeling mixed emotions. It was fun being carefree and spending my days playing at the park, colouring and reading books but at the same time I cannot deny that the sense of independence which comes from growing up is liberating. And although it can be daunting to be in charge of your future it’s also so cool. How do I want to shape my life? What do I value? Where would I like to go for lunch today and where would I like to go for my next trip out?
Perhaps it’s just a me thing but I wouldn’t personally say that I feel like an “adult” - I just feel like a more complex version of my past self due to increased experience and time on this planet, which totally makes sense. There are numerous things labelled as “childish” which I still enjoy or do such as going to the park for the swings, sleeping with cuddly toys and becoming visibly excited in public by the sight of a cute dog or a pretty flower, but something that the world has taught me is that growing up doesn’t mean detaching yourself entirely from your younger self, but rather expanding upon it. We develop in intelligence and common sense, as well as socially as we figure out norms, behaviours and how to go about doing tasks, but even though there are phases and ideas which we outgrow, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for adults to remain soft, be silly and to sometimes just want to be held.
When we are younger we only see the external side of an “adult” which is the put-together person who is there to help us out, sort our problems for us and take us to places which we can’t get to but, when we grow up ourselves, we learn that on the inside being an adult can often feel like worrying and / or winging it.
We have to balance lots of things but at the same time try not to balance too many things otherwise we’ll burn out or make no time for our social life and friend groups, we have to work hard for stability in the future even though it isn’t promised and we have to act appropriately depending on what numerical sum our name is equated to.
The next time that you see an adult having a rough time or feeling tired I hope that this comes to mind. Maybe offer to make them a drink, grant them a smile or a compliment and do your bit to be as understanding as you can. “Adulthood” is certified weird, and to be honest I’m not sure whether I even believe in there being such a label for it, but what I do know is that I am grateful for the places, people and opportunities that 20 has brought me so far.
Here’s to a future which will hopefully lead to great things for us all, regardless of age.
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