Adulthood Is a Myth. That is the title of Sarah Anderson’s first collection of her “Sarah’s Scribbles” comic series, and–as with most of the things that come from Sarah Anderson’s brain–I can relate.
Popular internet memes declare that becoming an adult is similar to taking a dog to the vet. It’s exciting until that moment when you realize where you’re headed. But honestly, is adulthood even a thing?
I’ve been an adult for three whole years now. Or one month. Define adult. I mean, the U.S. government had to make it complicated. I’ve had the ok of the U.S. government to vote, smoke, buy lottery tickets, and present ID for Nyquil for three years. Close enough.
In these three years, I have begun to suspect that adulthood may be a myth. I’m not certain that people “grow up.” We get older. Perspectives change. We get better at behaving in public. The government gives us a few extra privileges. People unite together in mutual weirdness and proceed to repopulate the earth. We pay taxes. There are definitely elements of adulthood–enough to create the illusion that it is real. But if you replace school with work, it becomes apparent that little has actually changed. Classmates become coworkers, and we’re all supposed to be nice to each other at work (i.e. the playground).
Without coffee, most of us would be reduced to the state of a two-year-old whose blankie is in the wash. I know I would. And there are a lot of people who clearly never got over whatever it was that traumatized them in middle school. And there are still bullies on the playground. And there are still people who are too cool for school–or the office. Same difference. The social construct of adulthood encourages us to hide all of this. And we do. Most of the time. But it inevitably comes out again.
Sound cynical? Maybe it is a little. But remember, I’m a communication major. I observe people and their behaviors, then analyze all the information I just took in. Finding out that adulthood is a myth actually made me laugh. It’s comforting in a way.
I’m 21. I do not have my life figured out. I have serious gaps in my knowledge of life skills. No one ever taught me how to fold a fitted sheet. I do not know what techniques get whichever stains out of whatever fabric. My cooking attempts are completely experimental. I am quite the useless human being. Unless you need to be taught how to kayak or something. So imagine my relief when I connect to the internet and find out that, not only can I Google all the life skills I seem to have missed, but that there are other people on this earth who have seriously considered setting their fitted sheets on fire.
I love when my mother (or any adult in her age group) Googles something. I love it. Because it’s such a relief that she doesn’t carry the sum of all knowledge in her head either. I don’t know how my parents got through school before the internet, or how my grandparents got through the majority of their lives without it–major respect points awarded.
I guess I thought that adulthood meant having life figured out. Here I’ve been thinking that I’d have to fake having it all together by now if I was going to keep up with the other grown-ups. It was true–the responsibilities got more serious and more numerous. It’s true–there are more social expectations. Actions have consequences. But no one has it all together.
Rest easy, 20-somethings of the world! If you, like me, operated under the assumption that adulting meant having life figured out, you can take comfort in this observation: adulthood is a myth.