The moment I first realized I was an adult was when my parents opened up and shared with me the trials and tribulations they were dealing with at the present time. It changed my whole perspective of adults. I realized that the range of personalities and problems that I dealt with as a kid, teenager, and a vicenarian (Google it. Yeah, archaic reference. Learned something new today. You’re welcome.) were, at their core, no different than the ones I would encounter as an adult. For better or worse. As a child, I thought that adults had life figured out, that they were old and wise, that they knew what was best for us and each other. Now that I am older, it seems we are mostly consumed with giving that appearance, as we still strive to get to that idealistic state. Wishful efforts, I suppose.
“I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter To My Daughter
The second moment that reinforced this new reality was when my peers from school that sought a career in education were certified teachers in their early to mid twenties. It is a reality that hits hard seeing future generation of malleable minds in the hands of a young adult. (and depending on what the person was like growing up, a potentially scary reality)
Worrying about things you can’t control, like how high up you are when climbing, aren’t going to help your situation.
After you come to terms with this reality, you need to realize that most of this is out of your control, and that’s okay. I live comfortably in adulthood for two reasons: The first, a quote from the book No Hero by Mark Owen said it best, “Stay in your three-foot world”. This was advice given to the narrator when he was distracted by looking down as he was rock climbing three hundred feet up. Worrying about things you can’t control, like how high up you are when climbing, aren’t going to help your situation. A crucial skill to possess for team-oriented activities.
“Staying in my three-foot world became a mantra for me. It is liberating once you let go of the things that you can’t control.”
— Mark Owen, No Hero
The second reason is best captured in the ideas shared in books like All I need to know… I learned in Kindergarten. Concepts like: Share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, always learn some and think some, are things we could apply throughout our lifetime. If we don’t lose sight of these things, we can go back to the roots that our education and social barometer were developed on and find ourselves working, playing, and growing together more often. By doing this, it will begin setting up the perfect playground (no pun intended) for our next generation to not only do well in, but thrive.
I feel concepts like these are sometimes overlooked in the education system and if they are offered, they tend to be optional. We focus so much on the basics of mathematics, language, sciences, but I feel as though sports and arts are just as important because they cultivate core social and creative skills. These are the under-taught skills that better equip us for ‘adulthood’. The skills we need so that we may be better prepared to begin the cycle again with our children, while advancing ourselves as species.