Thursday, June 29, 2006

What Does It Mean to Be an Adult?

I’m only asking because it keeps coming up in conversations that I’ve been having with Mr. Random lately.

He says that his life doesn’t feel “settled” or stable right now – all of our friends are having kids now and are well on their career paths, while he doesn’t like his current job and is going back to school. I counter that he’s had the same job for 12 years, has been married for almost 8 years, and 2 years ago bought property . . . how much more settled does he want to be?

I say that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other people – we should do what makes us happy and forget what everyone else is doing. “Other people” aren’t the ones who have to live our own lives day-to-day. Mr. Random is really excited about going to grad school, but he still wants to be like everyone else – not for the sake of being like everyone else, he says, but because he feels like that is what needs to be happening now.

I, on the other hand, don’t feel that way. For the first time in 35 years, I’m kind of excited by how life is now. I see so many possibilities out there for us – so many things to do, so many places to go. After I had my miscarriage 5 years ago, I pretty much stopped doing everything that I had been doing and kind of folded in on myself in a way. Luckily I had some friends whose presence forced me to join the land of the living and do stuff, but it wasn’t until the past year or so that I’ve started to feel optimistic again. I’m not in a real hurry to have kids at this point – maybe in the next couple of years, but not right away. And if, because of my advancing age, we aren’t able to have any, I’d be quite happy to adopt.

Mr. Random does agree with me . . . but he still feels . . . I guess, an internal pressure to have certain things checked off the list by now. He doesn’t feel like a “true” adult yet. But I don’t think that having kids makes you a “true” adult . . . having a full-time job and mortgage and other bills to pay seems to fit the bill rather nicely. Also being old enough to appreciate some things that you couldn’t when you were younger – having greater amounts of wisdom to draw from when faced with situations and relationships. Being able to be a mentor to someone and help them along their paths . . . being able to have the freedom to explore new things and also the freedom to be able to hang back . . .

What does being an adult mean to you?


Eric Grubbs said...

You want to know a good story? Ian MacKaye of Dischord Records/Minor Threat/Fugazi fame said in an interview about seven years ago about how he felt weird about not fully making "the transition" to adulthood. He never went to college; he's been doing music, touring and running a label since the early '80s. He called up his father and his father told him: "Well, I'll tell you two things: I see you as a man, as an adult man. And the second thing is that I can't see myself as a man."

Sure, there are things that we'd like to do and I see no harm in wanting to do them. However, we're not all on the same pace or path as everyone else. For me, my sister and husband have been married for almost four years. They're expecting twins in February and that's awesome. I'm looking forward to being an uncle, but I'm in no hurry to be married or a parent myself. I wouldn't say I never want to be those, but I'm not going to try to manipulate fate or mother nature.

For me, I've broken through some "chains" in my life that were really bogging me down during and after college. I've realized that I can have fun at any time, so I best make the most of what I'm doing now rather than later.

Tree of Knowledge said...

I was thinking about this last night after my husband found out that at our present rent in Hawaii, we could rent a 2 bedroom house in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in HomeTown. We've been married for 9 years come August and are both still in school.

My younger sister has a house, is married, and is planning to start the whole kid thing soon. My closest grad school friends have all just become mothers. I don't regret any of the decisions I've made, but not owning property, working part-time (Well, not right now, but husband is), and not having kids makes me feel less adult. And it is a comparative thing - if the people I love weren't buying houses and having kids, I don't think that I would be thinking about this as much.

But I think being an adult is about responsibilty and choices - having the maturity to recognize that it's okay to be different and not maintain an arbitrary status quo, having the emotional depth to have conflicting feelings and still be able to reconcile those feelings.

Virginia Gal said...

Beats me, if you find the answer do let me know : )