The Secrets of Youth and Adulthood: Living a Balanced Life
Starting with the basic idea of living, Life is filled with weird paradoxes. First you might ask, how is the basic idea of living a paradox? How can we be living if we need to be created from something, and how can ultimately be created by nothing? But that whole topic is a conversation for another time.
Today, I wish to discuss youth and adulthood. Both have their benefits. Both have their detractors. However, I find it interesting that just like most things and life (very much like the yin-yang symbol), both rely on each other. I would go as far as to say that the ultimate secret of the one is the other, and vice versa.
Throughout my childhood, the idea of adulthood was engrained in my head. As soon as I leave high school, after turning 18, I was an adult. As I grew up, adulthood started to become a grey area for me. When does one actually reach adulthood? What exactly does it mean to be an adult? I saw people who were out of high school, out of college, married, having kids, who I would never in my whole life think of as a real adult. Then there were younger persons that would not legally be considered adults that acted with such maturity that I would not think about calling a child.
Ultimately, I had to finally come to the decision of what is adulthood? I was not able to reach this decision up until this past week (I have been 20 for a few months). You become an adult when you learn to take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and the consequences of your actions. You might become an adult legally, by passing a certain amount of years after your birth (when you think about it, isn’t passing GO in Monopoly sort of like celebrating the birth of how many goes around the board you have had since you had started). However, you become a real adult when you finally say, “yes” to responsibility. This responsibility is you – you finally taking on yourself as a commitment. Becoming an adult in this sense is sort of like a marriage vow.
After a few prods from one of my advisors at work (and someone who I deem a close friend), I finally stopped saying that I had to get ready for real life to start after college because I am an adult now.
What is the secret of living as an adult?
So many thinkers have attributed the secret of life as living as a child that I feel if it is not approaching a cliché that it is a cliché. But, who can argue with the sentiment. Looking through a child’s eyes is the most healthy, literally eye-opening thing a person can do with their life.
Do you remember how excited you were when you met a dressed-up character at the amusement park? OH MY GOSH MOM! IT’S MICKEY MOUSE! Remember being able to play silly little games for hours, such as playing Army or role-playing as a knight or a princess or a schoolteacher? Those hours upon hours of me pretending to be a Pokémon trainer or a Jedi or a Wizard at Hogwarts were some of the best hours of my life.
Going into adulthood, it is paramount to keep that optimism and sense of wonder alive. If you do not, life will become a monotonous and mundane monstrosity (I had to use the word because of alliteration). I would go, as far as to say the secret of a good life is not happiness. You will not be able to be happy every second of your life. The secret I would say is to have the optimism of a child. Seek the adventure of the trauma you are going through. Experience the excitement of each of your emotions. You are a HUMAN. Those emotions are not only justified and imminent, but seeing these emotions as a journey and not as a destination, will make you feel fulfilled every time you have to go through any experience. People downplay children’s opinions because they are naïve. However, most children know that they are not going to be happy all the time, but instead choose to be optimistic in any situation.
Wait, where’s the paradox?
The secret of childhood is taking responsibility of yourself at a young age. Do you remember that child in your seventh grade class that got straight As, played sports, seemed really happy and appeared to be ‘on the right path’? That child was taking responsibility for his/herself. That child rationed that if he/she wanted to life the best possible life, you have to create the opportunities for yourself. That child was not a child, that child was being an adult.
Most children wait around to turn 10 to get their first Pokémon, 11 to get their letter from Hogwarts, wait years for the Doctor or Obi One to sweep them off their feet and take them for an adventure. Most children get stuck by placing the importance of their happiness on material possessions, in their hearts knowing that they will not be able to choose Squirtle, or receive that awesome gold ring from their hundred and something year old Uncle with hairy feet. What they could do is to decide to create their own adventure through life by taking it upon themselves to make life the adventure they want. That would make them an adult (at least in my eyes)
What I am getting at is you need the best of both worlds to live a fulfilling life (sorry for the Hannah Montana reference that I know I put in your head). You need to be able to take responsibility for your life, so that you can choose the adventure you want to go on and be an individual self without stopping the optimism machine. For that optimism machine will find the adventure within everything.