On the Notion of Adulthood

August 10, 2008
By Sarah Vaughn, San Bernardino, CA

Is there such a state as maturity? I have a job, I go to school, I drive, I have friends, and I take care of myself. I am a responsible citizen. I am almost an adult. And yet. The dark scares me. I procrastinate. I'm shy and awkward. I gossip. I'm insecure and easily annoyed. I'm selfish and self-patronizing. I whine and want and compare. I crave attention and praise. I'd rather watch TV than feed the poor. I am an oversized little kid. Have you seen the ways we torture and taunt each other? We're like bullies in the schoolyard. There are ways and ways of distraction and temporary happiness: rock and roll, drugs, sorrow, self-mutilation, sports, sugar, daydreams, work, philandering, anger, sleep. When we don't get what we want we cry. We are dependent on everyone else for our ideas, self-worth and fulfillment, but we stubbornly seek self-sufficiency. Our souls are so fragile, so heart-breakingly fragile, but we protect them terribly, building fortresses against all meaningful human contact, letting the wrong people in. Remember when you were a legitimate kid, who played outside and made messes and begged your parents for absolutely everything? Adults were monuments to stability, monoliths of authority. Someday, somehow, you would transform into them. There was a secret you thought would magically wash away your innocence and ignorance. One day you would wake up wise. But here you are, older and still waiting. We hoped to become impregnable, capable, struggle-less, utterly perfect. I look around and I am surrounded by neediness and confusion. We are not the independent, complete, transcendent human beings we pretend to be. I am so tired of dressing up like I know what I'm doing. I don't even know what I want. I remain petty and clueless, stunted and unaware. The only difference is now I try to ignore my inadequacies out of existence. Now I have power that can destroy and none of the understanding to manage it. We have stripped away beautiful, child-like qualities, wonder, love, and unabashedness and replaced them with burdens and expensive toys, anointing ourselves "adults." All of the vices, none of the joy. We remain eternally juvenile in childishness, miserable and disillusioned and alone.

I'm not ready to grow up, whatever that means.

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