I spent most of my childhood dreaming of the day I’d grow up. Even more so in the recent years, I’ve been in a mad rush to adulthood, and I’ve found that this is more unusual than not. I started wondering what it was that people were so hesitant about. What was it about “growing up” that made people shudder? What I knew for the longest time was that I was waiting for my life to begin, for the day I could be self-sufficient and able to pursue what I love. I was bogged down by the negative opinions and other fixations people have about being an adult.
I can’t tell you how many people I know and stories I hear that boil down to the same thing: we all want to remain children forever. We’re scared to death of growing up, as though taking this next step is a sentence to bills and responsibility and misery. I think we just see it in the wrong light. We’ve taken these cues from generations before us and learned that “adulthood” has to have the connotation that our lives are over, but in so many ways, they’ve just begun.
You can call me entirely overly-idealistic, but I would have to disagree. I think these concepts are plausible and thoroughly worthwhile, but are hard to completely embrace. Do I think everybody’s experience of independence has to look like this? Certainly not. But these are some of the undeniable benefits of living a life that is solely yours.
1. The stress that comes with taking responsibility for your life is nothing compared to the feeling of finally being free to do as you choose. No longer being the financial responsibility of someone else is thoroughly liberating. There is something so incredible to me about not only being able to support yourself and relieve your parents or guardians of their responsibility for you, but also, if you can, the way in which emerging adults somehow ban together and chip in for rent and help each other out. It’s this unspoken camaraderie. It’s the understanding that it’s not about being rich or successful, but being prideful of the fact that you’ve taken control of and responsibility for yourself.
2. The only ways you are bolted into anything are how you decide you are. You aren’t legally obligated to go to school and you’re not under the guardianship of anyone anymore. You can go out and live those big, bad dreams. You can do all the crazy reckless things you ever wanted to because at the end of the day the only person who will have to deal with the potential consequences is you. I’m of the belief that if you’re going to do anything risky, you just have to make sure that nobody else will be severely affected by it. This is your chance.
3. Finding a little corner of the world to call your own. There is something incredible about your first little, cheap apartment, where you learn to cook and furnish it with these little things and even though it’s not glamorous, it makes you happier than anything, because you finally have a life that’s yours. It makes all those silly little “adult” things like throw blankets and dinner parties seem entirely plausible and thoroughly enjoyable.
4. Financial security. I think most adults will say that they actually don’t have this, but I believe that’s just a side effect of not living within one’s means, and I think it’s something that any working person can achieve. There is an unmatched comfort and security that comes with having a bit of savings, just in case.
5. You don’t have to stop doing the things you loved in adolescence, and that’s the truth, but you are able to facilitate them better usually. You never have to lose your childlike wonder. You can infuse every day with little, happy things. You can learn that even in the crappiest of circumstances, to be grateful for what you’re given. That’s probably the biggest reason people don’t want to “grow up:” they don’t want to leave behind the things they love… but the truth is, you don’t have to.
6. You can make your own choices regarding your body, health and lifestyle. You can resolve the issues of your past, take control of your medical and mental health, etc. and not have to answer to anybody else about it. You can embrace your own body and make your own choices. Unfortunately, adolescents are always at the whim of their guardian’s consent and insurance package, and that can be debilitating if and when said guardians don’t agree with what one decides they’d like to do.
7. Having the means to provide yourself the little things that make you happy. I’m not saying money buys happiness, but I am saying that to a certain extent, it does. I know that beyond just having financial stability by the way of insurance and savings, the things that thrill me most are being able to go to Starbucks in the morning without concern, buying books I want to read, signing up for that yoga class. You can start living in the little things.
8. Change is possible like never before. The advice I very often dole out to people is to change your life if you don’t like it, but that often has to be applied in a metaphorical or spiritual context because we’re tied down to things. We’re stuck in school, we are surmounted by debt. But if you can find whatever job you can, and you can pay that off, and you can move somewhere, and if you’re able, you can travel. You can leave the significant other you stayed with out of convenience or you can move hours away from home if that’s what you really need.
9. You can choose your family. So many friends of mine are always deeply troubled by issues with their families, and you know what, that may never go away. It’s unfortunate, but true. But what you can do is that you can choose who your family is, and you can love and cherish them whether or not you are related by blood. Not being bound to people may feel shaky at first, but we all come to realize that it just means we can choose who plays a role in our lives, and we can choose the people that matter.