The Great Adult Debate

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

~C.S. Lewis

At least for the immediate future, there’s nothing we can do about the inevitable march of time; we’re going to continue to get older with each passing year (don’t ask how old I am because I’m not going to admit to that age – suffice it to say that I used landlines as a kid, and my first tool of research was the library and not Google). I have no doubts that science (or some less research-based organization that will go horribly wrong) is tirelessly working on methods to slow this process so that no one need suffer the ravages of old age, but until the Benjamin Button pill becomes available, we’re all stuck with the reality of encroaching wrinkles, body aches, and gray hair. For those of you out there with exceptional breeding (or excessive bank accounts – and, yes, we can all tell), you will still find the following signs of advanced age creeping into your life: a plastic bag full of plastic bags somewhere in the house, multiple chapstick sources (i.e., the car, work, several locations in the house), and multiple ibuprofen sources.

Face the facts, we’re all going to become adults whether we like it or not…and, frankly, we like it not. Who in their right mind likes bills, responsibilities, and taxes?! Sure, being able to rent a car and consume alcoholic beverages (legally – I’m looking at some of you) is a bonus, and there might be a few other perks sprinkled in there, but there’s a lot of dead weight that comes with being an adult…which prompts all of that ibuprofen you start carrying around and popping like candy. Is there anything more depressing than watching your hard-earned paycheck disappear – first to the government, and then to all of those necessities you thought sounded so cool as a kid? You know: a house, electricity, a car, the Internet no one can live without, and the ever-present phone? And, if you went to a higher education, there are those student loans you will be paying off for the rest of your life…and probably from the grave, too. We actually looked FORWARD to this and WANTED to grow up?!

What the hell were we thinking?!

Well, to be fair, we weren’t because we were young and stupid. Also…we didn’t have a choice – no Neverland, and no magic pill to let us stay kids forever. Damn. Okay, so here we are – adults (please feel free to add your own whining sound effect); we don’t get to change that. What we DO get to change – and somehow forget – is what we do with our lives. Yes, we have to be responsible members of society; we have to get jobs and pay our bills because prison really isn’t as glamorous as television makes it out be (unless you are a traffic cone, orange is not your color). This doesn’t mean staying in a mindless, soul-sucking job that makes you wish you were dead – that is NOT the definition of being an adult, and whoever tells you differently is lying (and probably wishing THEY were not in a mindless, soul-sucking job). NOTHING stops you from doing something you love, something that makes you happy…well, except YOU. Have you ever noticed that the word, “can’t” is uttered more by adults than kids? Think about that.

It isn’t just the professional side of things, though; there is this “adult persona” that people feel a need to embrace once they exit the doors of their educational building of choice into the “adult world” (if that doesn’t sound like the lamest amusement park in the world, I don’t know what does). People actually think they have to turn in their toys, posters, games, and books at the gate in exchange for classical art pieces, pottery, furniture that is non-functional (look, don’t touch!), and – my personal favorite – coffee table books. There’s this overwhelming pressure to hold dinner parties with fancy canapes, wine glasses, and conversation with Mozart playing softly in the background. Your dinnerware needs to match (of course), and it should only be in the most refined taste, coordinated with the drapes in your dining room. Your handbag has to match your shoes (or maybe not…I’m not fashion-forward, so definitely don’t trust anything I say in regards to clothing), and you’d better have the proper jewelry accessories. I think you’re allowed one pair of tennis shoes, but they are strictly for outdoor activities or sports. Everything is sophisticated, classic, and screams, “grown-up” – and people believe this is real!

WHY?!

You became an adult, not a Stepford Wife! Just because you age up doesn’t mean setting aside who you are and stuffing yourself into a mold you’ll never fit in. Have you ever set foot into ComiCon or DragonCon? You think a single one of those adults are not fully-functional, responsible members of society? (If you have doubts, go look at the cost to get in and then rethink your opinion) Getting older doesn’t mean letting go of the things that make you happy, regardless of what those things are. Adults play video games, read YA fiction (right now, some of that is better than the other side of the bookstore), read comics, build Legos (no child is building that Millennium Falcon), watch Disney+ and plan to storm Build-a-Bear when The Child is released (I will mow down your kid if they are in the way), and stand in line for animated movies. We didn’t give up on the things we loved just because society decided we were “grown-up.” And we’re HAPPY. Sure, we get some odd looks. Sure, people point. Sure, people roll their eyes, laugh, mutter under their breath – all of those things. So what? Last time I checked, I wasn’t enjoying things for anyone but myself.

I fell for the “adult” trap out of college. I scrambled to project the right image, follow the “rules,” and set up my first apartment appropriately. I lost myself, too, watched fragments drift away. I would see something I knew I loved, and I’d point it out to one of my new “friends,” and then wilt under their skeptical eye and crawl back home in shame. It took me a long time to realize how miserable I was, being so “adult” all the time, quashing all of ME inside, away from prying eyes. It wasn’t until I met a friend of mine, who wasn’t afraid to just be herself – consequences be damned – that I started to crawl back out of my shell. Oh, I lost some of those “friends” – they declared me “too weird,” “strange,” “immature,” and plenty of other derogatory things – and my ego took a blow before I realized they were A) wrong, and B) never friends in the first place.

Now? Now, my house has stuffed animals and Funko Pop! figurines in every room, as well as Lego sets. My movie collection is a mixture of animated, superhero, musical, anime, and action. I have a fair amount of YA on my book shelves, as well as manga/light novel, and comics. My purse and wallet are Harley Quinn, my laptop bag is Nightmare Before Christmas, my water bottle has The Child on it, and my gym bag has a Flerken on it. My clothing has Disney characters (including Star Wars and Marvel), DC characters, and cats on it. The vast majority of my jewelry is handmade (not by me – I’m not talented in that arena), and instead of a diamond, my engagement ring is a color-changing garnet. When we have dinner parties, we play Villainous or Unstable Unicorns or Bears vs. Babies, complete with shrieking laughter and accusations of cheating and hateful remarks. And I love every minute of it. Yes, I get weird looks sometimes, but I also get a lot of compliments and smiles. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me anymore, because I’m happy. Maybe it’s not the Webster’s Dictionary version of, “adult,” but it’s my definition, and my only regret is that I wasted a lot of time arriving at that realization.

So, you tell me: what kind of adult do you want to be?

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