I am now 33 years old and I still feel very strange when I’m referred to as an “adult.” During my 20s most of the general population was still very much older than I so age gave me no concern.
I also tend to realize certain aspects of life much faster than most people. I knew at 19 that I was not going to join the NBA. Now at 33 I feel as though I should have a mid-life crisis now rather than at 40. After all double 33 and you get 66. I don’t know many people who are 80 so wouldn’t it make sense?
Luckily for me, I’m quite satisfied with everything and very comfortable with what I have experienced so far in life. I feel I’ve learned some important lessons already which a great majority of people never learn. What are these?
1. The meaning of life – Be kind to people, learn to enjoy being alive whatever the circumstances.
2. Material things do not bring joy.
3. Pause and reflect on the beauty of life once in a while.
4. Learn to stop the mind from craving anything. Control the mind instead of letting it control you.
Those are the main ones but the point of this post is not about the meaning of life, it’s about growing up.
When I was a kid, I always thought that adults had all the answers and all of them mature. Adults maintained a kind of “god-like” status and I thought once I hit a certain age then information would just be given to me and I would have all the answers as well.
I saw how they behaved and for the most part it always seemed much more cordial than some of the mean things classmates would do. Adults never just walked over and hit someone, adults didn’t throw tantrums and adults could fix all the problems.
But, around my college age, I started to learn that “adults” really didn’t have all the answers. Yet, they were still “adults” and perhaps I hadn’t reached that magical age when I would be inducted into the “adult club.”
Then around 26 years of age I became quite certain that there would be no sacred ceremony of “becoming an adult” and all of life’s answers were simply not going to come. I started to see how “adults” really act and it completely shattered my reverence for them based solely on the fact that they were an adult.
I find it very hard to explain to others that this was a very big revelation for me. You see, I have the ability to remember how I thought about things at the time of being a child. This is to say I can compare how I thought then, with what I have learned until now. The difference between how I thought of adults as a child and the discovery of the fact that half of the adult population are the exact opposite of my childhood opinions just amazes me.
I have also had the good fortune to live around the world a bit and combined with my experience as a sales person, I’ve met thousands of adults. Through this experience I can quickly ascertain what kind of person they are, see their strengths and vulnerabilities and if I try very hard can even see their inner child.
Some adults are very well put together and have lived life in a good way. They may not have all the answers but they listen when they do not and do not become defensive. Then there are those that remind me of the immaturity one would think only occurs in adolescence. These types of people may put on a very strong front but they don’t have any answers and their overconfidence is really just a mask for a weak individual.
We all have vulnerabilities and from my experience, those that put down others and stomp around when they do not get their way are the adults that “never really were.”
Perhaps the biggest group of “adults” without the answers are those that can be found on Fox News. These people get angry over everything! It kind of seems like a group of the “cool kids” in High School that are so confident in themselves, do their best to try and look better than everyone else and think of themselves as elite. Yet, it is all just bravado and I can certainly tell you they do not have any answers and no shouting match or boob job can overcome this fact. Just because Hannity yells at someone does not make him right and just because the playboy bunny wears a crucifix in between her enormous faux boobs does not make her a Christian.
But, this is not a political post, Fox is just a very good example of “adults” that really “aren’t” Just watch one episode of Glenn Beck for christ’s sakes.
Now that I am 33 I feel that I would be staunchly in the “adult camp” and I have to tell you, I now think it is the young children who have it right. Sure, they have a few flaws like tantrums that need to be worked out but I am always amazed by the fact that they can seemingly get joy out of anything. Give a four year old a few colorful beads and just look at the fun the child can have.
I feel that as adults, many are constantly trying to recapture that sense of joy. In adult land, they are of the mistaken belief that money is the way to get there. Of course there are some good adults who realize that is not the way but I really believe these types of people are few and far between.
I live in downtown San Francisco and I see these adults drive in in their BMWs, give a few good horn blasts along the way, run around in their suits and all with a sort of stone like look in their faces. I really do not sense much joy during work hours in downtown San Francisco. They do all of this in order to make money which no sane person would actually do unless they thought it would bring them joy (money) in some form or other. Yet, perhaps the work hours are simply not a good time to be looking for joy.
When I speak with these “adults” I can often get a sense of who they really are. The first thing to do is to break down these false exteriors in which they may try to present themselves as strong, put together and so on. What I’m interested in is who they really are and what they feel passionate about. I’m searching for that “inner child” and am telling them in so many “adult like” words “Hey, I’m interested in YOU! Let’s dispense with the grandstanding and do not be afraid to tell me your likes/dislikes and what you are passionate about, I’m INTERESTED!”
Perhaps it is just the weight of the world and our cultural influence that really beats down adults to make them believe they aren’t good enough, don’t have enough and must show others how strong they are. I find those that run around and pound their chests and show off their material adult toy chests to be among the weakest and lowliest form of “adult.” Conversely, those that are kind to others, listen and not so interested in talking about themselves to be among the strongest.
However, the rules have also changed in that the former “adults” are now quickly approaching or have approached the Senior Citizen age. The current adults being Gen X’ers and Ys.’ What has amazed me at this point is that the former adults appear to be enjoying life a bit more. I have even heard some say the words “I love you,” when they would never have been uttered before. It reminds me of my own Grandpa who would give a hug and a kiss to all members of the family! It seems that the former adults, now Senior Citizens, are much more quick to smile, have become much more gentle and are learning what life is supposed to be like again.
I once read an article saying that the happiness curve was at it’s highest in adolescence and old age. Mid-life was when people tend to be most unhappy.
As for me, I am going to try very hard to continue remembering what is important in life and try to force that happiness index up no matter what the happiness curve report may say. I’ll do so by the following:
1. Remember the importance of friends and family
2. Love being alive
3. Being kind to others
– Even those mean adults who want to honk at me.
As for “Adults,” half of you have done well and you take joy in doing the best you can and being nice to people.
To the other half, I would say it is going to take some effort to find that “inner child” and what your passions are. Stop worrying about what other people think about you and more toys do not equal more happiness. Maybe many of you have had a tough life and that is why you may feel you need to act the way you do. I hope things will get better and even if you honk at me I promise I won’t honk back at you.