Adulthood is a Lie

I’ve given it some thought in recent days (and weeks and months and years) and I’ve come to the conclusion that adults are dicks. ‘Don’t lie,’ they tell us when someone’s scribbled on the wallpaper. ‘You must always tell the truth.’ So, adults: why did you spend the first two decades of our lives telling us we were heading toward adulthood? You knew we weren’t. You knew you were lying because when you reached your late teens and your early twenties, you realised that you’d been lied to by your parents. You weren’t heading toward adulthood, either. You were just heading toward an age where you were expected to act like you knew what you were doing, to take vague responsibility for your choices and to get up at the same time every day in order to hold down a job.

In three months’ time I will have turned 21 and officially passed the point at which I can make terrible decisions and expect people to indulge me. In a few years I’ll be expected to have gotten my youthful whimsies out of the way and to have a steady job and concrete life plans (I nearly added ‘a home of my own’ there too, but nobody’s that optimistic). I’ll be allowed to drink too much, make terrible purchases on the Internet and forget people’s birthdays, but not for much longer. Young adulthood is the very last stop before actual adulthood, at which point I will become familiar with terms like compound interest and stamp duty.

Except I actually won’t, will I, because adulthood is a lie. No one knows what stamp duty is. No one remembers all the birthdays. No one reaches any age and thinks ‘I’ve really got my shit together, I’m officially a successful human being!’ What’s the measure? Opening a savings account, maybe. Raising children who aren’t serial killers, maybe. Learning to fix the fuse box, maybe.

You don’t reach adulthood, you survive long enough to do things you didn’t or couldn’t do as a child. And if you can’t or don’t want to do them, you improvise and hope. I know this both from my own tentative steps into responsibility and from listening to adults tell stories of improvising.

No one has a clue what they’re doing.

I’m not sure what to do with this information. If I were the preaching sort, I would dedicate my life to educating children about the world’s biggest cover up.

I may yet still do that.

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4 thoughts on “Adulthood is a Lie

  1. Wow! Keeping this short.
    I agree with Jacki Sky…
    BUT I agree that the notion of “you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to” is a LITTLE bit of a reach. I don’t tend to agree with all of the things my folks said and did, BUT, that, in its own way, strove me to acheive better for myself! I wanted to be better in those areas i dsagreed with. And then, when the lack of support started showing (them seeming to want to take the safe option), well, i mean, that makes you realize you WANT the encouragement sometimes, even if you dont need it from say your parents anymore. Hope is a very important thing! I think it is good to have the encouragement growing up. The thing I would change would be, that I will try to stay encouraging of my kids or the next generation of kids especially with the things that they want to do that…scare me? I think I will have to brave face it sometimes, because I KNOW that my fear has held me back sometimes. Um, but that encouragement is still out there. You just gotta look for it…or just simply believe in it and it will show itself!

    ah, ok wrote this three times, I hope what I wrote conveys what I meant to say. Haha but yes, we Do still have some room for error as adults. Though it may be less, I find that encouraging. Basically, we have our whole lives to make choices and do things. While “the skys the limit” is a bit of an exaggeration, well…hope and strongwills HAVE proven to have positive outcomes. We just have to also have hope and strongwills to get up off the ground, and fight (or find alternatives) when things don’t go our way. I think THAT is being an adult!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I still think I’d rather be seven and think the sky’s the limit, instead of knowing that it’s really, like, the top of a multistory car park. Or maybe I’ve become bitter and cynical way too early, maybe I need to have a Disney experience or something… I like to think I’ll encourage my children to do what scares them while making sure they know they might fail and fall on their faces.

      It’s probably a good thing I’m not planning on having children yet, huh.

      Like

  2. no. don’t go spoiling it for the generations to come. part of this whole cover-up is the notion that you become part of it. if you tell kids the truth, then what have they got to look forward to?
    you tell them that actually there is no such thing as “being an adult”, that when you reach your twenties, then thirties, forties etc etc you still don’t have a clue … they can’t then just enjoy their childhood and teenagerdom. they’ll know that there’s nothing different about that stage of their life. that actually in many ways, it’s either more of the same but with (maybe) more money and (quite likely) far more responsibility, or else it’s worse. that those expectations piled upon you mean that actually there’s less likelihood of just having fun, like the carefree fun of childhood.
    you want to ruin that?
    we go through all the traumas of pre-adulthood safe in the knowledge that it’s a training ground for adulthood, that one day we’ll have a job, and a car, and holidays, and a home, and savings. And Freedom. that’s it! FREEDOM. that’s what we get after the trials and tribulations. at least, that’s what we think.
    But you’re right. Welcome to Adulthood, such as it is. Life goes on, much the same as before. Maybe more income, but more stuff to pay for. More responsibility, definitely. Freedom to make your own mistakes.
    And yeah, improvisation is key. there’s no rulebook or Guide To Being An Adult. just wing it. do your best. all those cliches from education years, still hold true.
    but i do know what stamp duty is, and understand compound interest, APRs, AERs, ISAs. and i forget birthdays, even though they’re on the calendar.
    I don’t have my shit together, i have three intermittently steady jobs.
    I have a number of savings accounts, no mortgage, a marriage and a divorce behind me, a child who isn’t (yet?) a serial killer. I can sort out fuses, build kitchens, lay floors, overhaul gardens. many many things that may or may not fulfil criteria of success.
    i would counsel that if you seek any measure of success then continue to make terrible decisions, find people who will occasionally indulge you, never let go of youthful whimsies, do not make concrete life plans, occasionally drink too much and make appalling internet purchases.
    do all of this
    and more
    it’s what life is for
    for living
    not for attaining a “perfect” existence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having slept on it I don’t think I want to deliberately ruin anyone’s childhood, but I grew up being told I should and could follow my dreams and do anything I wanted. If I’d been told ‘follow your dreams but it’s going to be a tougher graft than you can possibly imagine’, I might not have spent the last two years increasingly disillusioned about everything I thought I wanted to do.

      I’ve got three jobs (we should compare notes!), a car and savings, and although I wouldn’t be an artist or a freelancer if I wasn’t invested, I wouldn’t have become so cynical over the last couple of years if people had said ‘become an artist but make sure you’ve done a dry run and got some savings and experience before you plunge into the world of freelance marketing alongside trying to make it as an artist and don’t forget your friends have moved away and you work from one room which will make you want to cry sometimes’ instead of just saying ‘become an artist! Look at these other people who became artists! If they can do it so can you!’

      I’m not interested in a perfect life and I’m almost looking forward to the terrible decisions I haven’t made yet, but I am exhausted by the reality of getting up every day and wondering how my life turned into something I looked forward to into something I have to survive.

      Also, congrats to Jamie for not being a serial killer yet! And, seriously, what is stamp duty?

      Like

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