Thought Catalog
January 20, 2014

Don’t Ever Be Concerned About Acting Your Age

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Lauren Hammond
Lauren Hammond

A child says to me, “What is the grass?” fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.

-Whitman, Song of Myself

There is a point where we grow up and stop asking why the sky is blue and start answering the questions of the kids that start appearing in our lives instead. The ‘why’ game is thought to be annoying, but I think it’s the most impressive thing a kid can do. They want to understand the world around them. If you give them an answer that doesn’t make sense, they will ask more questions. Too many adults don’t do this. They hear an explanation that doesn’t really make sense, and they just adopt it instead of using questions to hammer it into something that fits with their own ideas of reality.

Being in my 20’s I see a lot of people doing this by “growing up.” There’s this kind of frenzy feeling to graduating college where you need to get all these milestones to show your peers that you are a “real adult.” You have to get a real job, you have to stop living with fun roommates and going out. You need to have wine glasses so that when people come over you don’t end up drinking Pinot Noir out of coffee mugs.

Nowhere else in life does it matter so little what is actually important to you. There’s just such and overwhelming sense that if you don’t do the things you are supposed to do and have the things you are supposed to have, you’re immature, you’re just not as good of a human as your friends that are buying homes in the suburbs.

Listening to what people tell you you should and should not do at your age is like giving yourself and ultimatum. Ultimatums never work because they force you to live outside of reality. You can align your actions with the actions you are “supposed” to do, but if you aren’t doing them because you want to, you’re shutting out your intuition and internal decision making process. You’re sending a signal to yourself that you should accept, without questioning, a status quo you don’t really believe in (or else you’d already being doing said behaviors).

I think we should be kids until the day we die. We should never stop being intellectually curious and asking questions that other people think are obvious. We should never stop being playful, and seeing everyday as an opportunity to have fun and laugh.

I don’t hate all the ’20 things to do in your 20’s’ lists, because it’s always helpful to read and compare yourself to others. Reading and learning is never wrong. But I do hate that we see the end of our 20’s as a kind of end to being able to do things like have nights out that end so much differently than you planned, the end of moving to a new city because you just want a fresh start, or the end of anything that you would otherwise want to do, because you’d rather feel settled than satisfied.

Everything you do should come naturally. Make changes because there is a voice inside of you that wants to improve. If your friends tell you you will end up being the crazy spinster aunt, feel sad for the people who have no other way to view the world than by assuming paths that have already been taken are the only ones available. You get to be alive one time, so your choices should be wholly yours. You want to be cautious about not being satisfied enough with how you spend your life, not cautious about being appropriate enough. TC mark