Ambivalence: how fitting. After I finished my earlier blog post, I went back to the article to finish reading. A few more pages in, the article discussed an abundant sense of ambivalence among the “emerging adults”- how fitting. This “tween”-esque era of my life seems to carry the semblance of adulthood, yet the prevailing passions and desires of my adolescence. Feeling conflicted and ambivalent are commonplace among my everyday emotions.
I found this exceptionally interesting:
“According to Maslow, people can pursue more elevated goals only after their basic needs of food, shelter and sex have been met. What if the brain has its own hierarchy of needs? When people are forced to adopt adult responsibilities early, maybe they just do what they have to do, whether or not their brains are ready. Maybe it’s only now, when young people are allowed to forestall adult obligations without fear of public censure, that the rate of societal maturation can finally fall into better sync with the maturation of the brain.”
Ah, refreshing: a natural timeline. When I first started the article, I was infuriated by the condescending nature of the suggested pursuant age markers for getting married and having a family. I even questioned if I was being scolded for feeling resigned to wait until 30 to get married. It’s not that I’m against monogamy; I just don’t feel like there is any purpose in rushing. It makes sense that the progression through life is in sync with our cognitions- not society.
I guess the source of why I feel rushed to take the trip to South America or go back to school or take a big risk is due to the ingrained concept that you must do it now, or you’ll grow up and that’s it. Becoming an adult has seemingly become synonymous with the end of your life as you know it. I’m not wistfully hoping I could go back to living under my parent’s care, but I’m also not in a hurry to forgo the reckless rebellion and the unyielding desire for adventure that ripple through my core.
Parents constantly fret over the influence of media reducing the innocence and longevity of childhood, but when did college graduation become the immediate jump off for childhood? Isn’t there something poetic about preserving that feeling of hopes and dreams for as long as it lasts? It’s like that last summer when you finally look at the toys scattered around your room and you realize that the magic is gone. You pack them away in a box and close out that chapter of your life. At some point it will naturally happen: we will all be adults. But just as most parents won’t prematurely put Lego sets or Barbie dolls into storage, why do we want to scorn those who refuse to pack away their childhood dreams as soon as they step out into the real world?
I adore the suggestion of a “rumspringa” (a tribute to my Amish neighbors back home) for all American youth to have time specifically dedicated to the purpose of exploration. When else do we get to do it? If you didn’t join the work force right out of high school, you do right out of college. Unless you’re blessed to have a large trust fund, how do you go about financing a passionate internship? Travel? Volunteering? If you don’t find yourself marching among the ranks of the producing masses as soon as you’ve earned your degree, you’re allowing society to brand you with the scarlet “L”- for loser.
“The 20s are when most people accumulate almost all of their formal education; when most people meet their future spouses and the friends they will keep; when most people start on the careers that they will stay with for many years. This is when adventures, experiments, travels, relationships are embarked on with an abandon that probably will not happen again.”
With statements like that, how can we not feel the anxiety and pressure? Ah, to be 23… sometimes it’s more that AHH!!! I’M 23!!! In the next decade, I'm supposed to grow up, get married, get a career, start a family...and be sated. I don't want to mill around in limbo, but I'm not ready to make all those decisions. I want my rumspringa. I want to find out more about me. I want to take some risks. And one day, when I've put all those things behind me, then I can start to make more "adult" decisions. But until I've released at least some of the wind in my sails, I can't begin to feel complacent to stop dreaming.