I am 21 years old. I have one year of college left, a bunch of loans, two part-time jobs, and my entire future stretching out in front of me. I also have no definite plans post-graduation.
I feel a lot of pressure to decide on something, to nail down my plans because people are asking me constantly. What are you doing after graduation? Have you found a job yet?
These questions are constant reminders that I’m not a kid anymore and that I need to decide what to do with my life. Because I’m an adult. I can vote, I can legally purchase alcohol or a lottery ticket, and I can go see an R-rated movie if I so choose. I can make my own doctor’s appointments or schedule a haircut. I do my own taxes, grocery shop, and a number of other things that are frequently termed “adulting” by my peers.
And maybe this happens to you too, but I get a lot of flack from people if I happen to use the word “adulting” to describe something I’ve done, or if I choose to spend my day off building a blanket fort or watching a Disney movie. These things are not considered to be adult behavior, and I’m told I need to grow up. I need to start behaving like an adult. I need to “act my age and not my shoe size.”
But I reject that. There is a difference between growing up and behaving like a “grown up” all the time. One happens as you age, and there are certain responsibilities that come with that, like paying bills and having to make your own appointments. Growing up is a part of life.
Behaving like a grown up, on the other hand, isn’t something I need to do all the time. Sure, if I’m at work or school, I can be professional. If I go to the bank or need to call my insurance agent, I can speak in an appropriate manner and do what I need to do.
But that doesn’t have to be all the time. Acting grown up constantly is stressful. It’s stressful because being an adult is stressful. There are bills to pay, work to do, and the older you get the more responsibility you accumulate.
So releasing your inner child and not acting like an adult sometimes is the best thing you can do. Watch a Disney movie. Build a fort. Eat ice cream right from the container. Go to a playground and swing for a bit. Relieve the stress. Remember that being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be boring and grown up all the time. It doesn’t mean your personality has to change, and it doesn’t mean you have to be consumed by responsibilities.
All it means is that you’re older, and you have to learn how to function as an adult in society. If you can do that, then it doesn’t matter how “grown up” you act. It doesn’t matter if other people think you’re grown up or not. That’s their problem, not yours.
You can be an adult and still be a child at heart. It’s more fun that way. Besides, it’s your life, and you get to live it the way you want. Don’t let people who have lost themselves to the gloom of adulthood and mortgages weigh you down. Embrace your inner child, and, if anyone tells you to grow up, just tell them that you are satisfied with your current height. That should confuse them long enough for you to make your escape.