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The Big Lie

When you’re a child, it’s hard to think of anything better than finally becoming a grown-up. Grown-ups, you see, get to make all the rules and are never sent to time outs. They get to boss people around and watch TV all day long. No one ever tells a grown-up to eat all of their broccoli before dessert.

The thing is, once you actually reach any sort of grown-up-ness, you realize that it’s all some kind of twisted joke. Sure, you don’t have to go to bed when your parents tell you to, but you’d kill for any chance to take a nap. Food is expensive, clothes are expensive, and your apartment is expensive (but apparently not expensive enough to not smell like dead cats). You have to make decisions and pay bills all by yourself, and people rarely listen when you try to boss them around. And not once, not once along your path to adulthood, did anyone think to mention that you’d probably end up cleaning toilets at 5:00 in the morning, only to spend all your hard-earned cash on wilty lettuce and a Spanish textbook that will be re-editioned three times over by next semester.

And it’s no wonder no one warned you, because if you’d known about all this “responsibility” nonsense beforehand, you would’ve refused to be a grown-up at all. You would’ve run to Narnia or Neverland (someplace where no one cares if your phone bill is paid on time) and refused to come back until your mom promised to make all your meals and read bedtime stories to you every night for the rest of forever.

So why, when growing up is clearly not anywhere near as fun as a 6-year-old thinks it ought to be, do we still insist on doing it? Why put ourselves through that sort of pain (and poorness and Ramen and leaky bathroom sinks)? Could it be that there’s something about adulthood to make up for all the stress? (You scoff at those who suggest we only grow up because we have to, or to make money, or any such nonsense. You’re making a point in this paper, gosh darn it.)

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. You’re not sure who “they” is, but you know from experience that they’re right. The absence of money lets your heart grow fond enough to work for minimum wage. The absence of well-balanced, home-cooked meals (and the presence of scurvy) makes you a whole lot fonder of that broccoli than you ever thought you could be.
Maybe it really isn’t about the persistently underwhelming destination after all -- maybe experiencing adulthood in all its coupon-cutting splendor can teach you a profound, if vaguely fortune-cookie lesson. Maybe growing up is about the journey, about what you learn to appreciate because you live without it. Maybe the steps we take from childhood to awkward adolescence to even more awkward young-adulthood are what will allow us to be truly successful grown-ups.



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MayaInk said...
Sept. 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm
This is magnificently written and well thought out! I loved it!
 
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