What kind of mind does an adult have? What really does it mean to be an adult?
Is it based on having an adult body? Is it based on our level of maturity? Is it based on our age, or the number of responsibilities we possess?
I say there’s no such thing as true adults. We can put on a suit and start a job. We can learn to drive, get married, start a family. But truly, are these really the things that define us as being grown, responsible human beings?
I’ve learned a lot about myself recently, and about other people as well, and what I’ve found is that I’m not sure when exactly I left the phase of my life called “childhood”, or whether I even really left it at all. In my culture and lifetime, the age of 18 is when we are legally allowed to become independent “adults”. I have no recollection of suddenly becoming smarter, more mature, more responsible the moment I turned 18. And even now, several years later, I still don’t have any sort of feeling that I would say “Ah yes, this is what being an adult feels like”. I’m just me. I still feel like I can go outside and collect leaves and flowers and pretend to cook meals in my pretend house under a tree in the backyard. I still feel like playing video games and watching movies. I still get excited for snow days. The feel of summer in the air still means the end of the school year in my mind. “Me” is made up of my brain, and my mind doesn’t feel that different now than from a decade ago.
What if I really am still a child, and always will be? Sure, my body is that of an adult, I have certain adult responsibilities, but maybe it’s all just a farce. I’m still a child pretending to be an adult. Maybe we all are. We think we know better when we have more time spent on this earth, more experience, but at the end of the day we all still act like our child selves, still think like our child selves.
The best example I can think of for this is how I see people act out in public, especially in a retail setting. When I began to think of the grumpy customers at work as overtired toddlers who really need to be taken home for a nap, I really became more understanding toward most people’s behavior.
I’ve been working on reflecting on who I was when I was younger, how I spent my time. I was far more creative, far more imaginative. I really knew the best ways to use my time and enjoy my days, filling them with my passions. I did what I loved, no matter what others thought. I want to embrace my child-self even more, see what potential lies waiting from the days of exploration and self-discovery.