The Optimistic Skeptic
Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 20:02
As far back as I can remember I've wanted to grow up. Whether it was (often inadvisably) borrowing my older sister's clothes or reading more books, everything I did was in the hopes of looking, acting and sounding older. Style-wise I've perhaps backpedaled a little bit (I typically vary between "business casual" and "first day of kindergarten,") but the moment I started college I looked forward to graduating and being a "real adult." And that hasn't changed. I think.
While I've always thought of adulthood as glamorous, I've heard many others express an interest in staying young forever. Where's the fun in that? Yes, sometimes I dress like a child and it's fun to do childish things when hanging out with my friends, but I've never once wished to be young forever. Think about the person you were in middle school, or high school, or even freshman year of college. Do you really want to go back to that? Still not convinced? Think about your wardrobe. See what I mean?
The idea of being young may seem appealing at first, but it can hold you back from some great life experiences. If I had avoided adulthood or independence like the plague, I probably wouldn't have gone to school far away from home. I definitely wouldn't have gone to New York City on my own for four months. That route isn't right for everyone, but I know that if I didn't go out and explore or take risks, I would be a stagnant, boring, lazy person. Rather than making me seem old or not fun, being an adult is what made me a (somewhat) more interesting person.
Growing up isn't always a voluntary thing either. Many of us go through experiences that change us, and sometimes we're forced to grow up fast. This might not be the most pleasant experience, but no matter what, we learn from it. And learning, if you haven't figured it out, is one of my favorite things.
I don't always have this "being an adult is grand!" outlook. Sometimes the fear of the real world sets in and causes short bursts of insane panic. I'll sit up in the middle of the night realizing that I've never really balanced my checkbook or learned what a mortgage is. The second one doesn't really matter, because who knows if I'm ever going to own a house? I'll probably just live in an apartment forever. But how do I go apartment hunting? Is it okay to do it online or should I visit in person? How much is a reasonable amount to pay per month? Will I be able to afford something nice with my job? Oh my god, I need to get a job!
This isn't a look at my everyday life as a college senior, but it is a nice glimpse into some of my less-than-swell moments. Even though I've always wanted to grow up and get a job, I'd be lying if I said I feel completely prepared. In these moments of fear and anxiety, I always try to look on the bright side. I'll look at my résumé, check out my grades and think about what makes me a good job candidate. Then I look at my personal skills: I usually am pretty good about talking to people because I enjoy it, so that isn't a problem. Despite a sarcastic streak, I think I'm what people would classify as a "good girl," so being friendly and nice will hopefully be helpful when looking for apartments or conducting job interviews in person.
By looking at all of the good things I have going for me, I'm able to make the new things less scary. I'm not the only person graduating this year who isn't quite confident in all the ins and outs of adulthood. However, the first step to being more comfortable in the adult world is being prepared for it. Since I've been doing that since childhood, I feel like I'll be okay.
I'm not saying that we all need to be "serious" and only focus on life after college, because adults can have fun too. We're not going from our 20s to our 60s after graduation, so some of those less-than-mature habits of ours don't have to disappear when we get those diplomas. Personally, I hope that getting a job won't mean ending my amateur cartooning career or my habit of singing The Animaniac's "Nations of the World" song while I'm writing, but I'll have to see.
There are some appealing aspects of never losing your childhood. For one, the world might seem like a much happier place without all of that "grown up" knowledge of the terrible economy, loss of civil rights and global hunger crisis. I'm not sure how introspective children are, so maybe a more childlike view includes not recognizing your own flaws. That's always great for the ego, right? And when you're a child, you don't have to ever really worry about doing anything. You just sit back, relax and let all of the adults make the decisions for you. Sounds fantastic.