“I don’t want to be a man,” said Jace. “I want to be an angst-ridden teenager who can’t confront his own inner demons and takes it out verbally on other people instead.”
“Well,” said Luke, “you’re doing a fantastic job.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes
The main goal in life is for every person to learn how to be an adult.
Somehow, there’s an assumption that once the clock strikes 12 on your 18th birthday, you automatically get an up-the-ass injection of fairy dust and become all fucking grown up.
I know plenty of men and women in their 20s and 30s (and 40s and 50s – hi, mom! hi, dad!) who often behave like 4-year old children.
And no, it’s not just about your frontal lobes that do not finish developing until your mid-20s, but rather it’s about behavioral patterns that are established early in childhood and then re-enacted again and again, often unconsciously. Until we question them.
And if I sound too Freudian for you, well… bite me! (oral fixation, anyone?]
Perhaps, next time your anal retentive self throws a tantrum because you want a cookie, you’ll think of me.
“But I don’t like vegetables!”
“Gym is boring!”
“I hate burpees (push-ups, running, moving, breathing)!”
“I’m too tired to work out.”
“Why do I have to?”
“It’s his fault.”
“She started it.”
We whine, and stomp our feet.
We sneak sweets from our own damn fridge, pretending it’s someone else. If we pick out the cookie dough chunks out of the ice cream, it doesn’t count.
And then we feel bad and go into the disciplinarian parent mode.
“No, you cannot have a cookie. You already had one with breakfast.”
“You’ve been bad today. No dessert.”
“You’ve been good all week. On our way home, we’ll get you some ice-cream!” (or pizza, beer, hash brownies… insert age-appropriate or age-inappropriate vice here).
“Eat it! It’s good for you!”
When was the last time that line worked?
“You don’t want to work out today? Well, you have to. Why? Because I said so!”
Right, because everyone knows that the best way to motivate someone to do something is to beat them into it with a stick.
We treat ourselves as children, and then are surprised, when those same children start acting out.
Being an adult is awesome. Let me repeat that with some swearing inserted for emphasis.
Being an adult is fucking awesome.
Growing up is the best thing that ever happened to me.
You can do whatever you want.
You can eat Oreos for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.
You can stay up until 3 in the morning.
You can have three beers. Or six. Or twelve. [The right number to call for alcohol poisoning is 911].
You can skip a workout. Or two. Or never start working out in the first place.
You can use swear words in your blog posts.
You can skip a shower. At least for a few days. Or weeks. You may get fired. Your partner will either leave you eventually or stop showering too. But the point still stands.
You can not clean your house. [You can find more information on pest control here.]
Still want to a be a toddler sometimes?
Dress up. [For Halloween, or for a special night of hanky-panky].
Bundle up on a cold night, and make yourself a cup of hot chocolate. Yes, with marshmallows.
And next time someone guilt trips you about eating chocolate cake with their photos of wilted lettuce and a piece of protein substance that looks like it came from a chicken suffering from a major depression, roll your eyes at them and stick your tongue out.
Then tell them to go parent someone else.
Because YOU are an adult.
YOUR TURN: Are you all grown up? What are some ways in which you sometimes act like a toddler? [I know we all do!]
This essay was written in 2013.