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.