It’s long been humorously joked that you have to have a good grasp on life before you become an adult. This doesn’t jive, since most perfectly mature adults I know still don’t really know what’s going on. Instead, we just kind of get a grasp on our little piece of the pie, and really just grow more comfortable knowing what little we know and ignoring the rest.
While I acknowledge that the phrase above is more a saying than reality, it’s important to remember that sayings exist largely because there is some level of truth to them.
Are you using the excuse to act a fool, get drunk, sleep around, or generally live without responsibility because you think you don’t have a good enough handle on life not to? Perhaps that’s too vague. Do you think you have to be more secure in life before you begin acting like an adult?
If you are, you’re wasting your time. Adults struggle every bit as much to figure out life as much as many younger people. The difference is not necessarily the amount of knowledge, but the wisdom to our approach. Instead of running balls to the wall, we try to ask questions before we try thinking up answers. We listen to opposing points of view, even if we continue to disagree with them. We choose to move forward, even knowing we don’t have all the information.
One of the biggest differences between youth and adults? Youths fear to move because they think there is more to know. Adults know there isn’t as much more to know than they used to, and move anyway, prepared to deal with whatever consequences might come.
How might this affect you in this life? You might have feared to start your own business because you think you’re too young, or to step out and speak when you know the truth, or doubt that what you do will make an impact. Perhaps youth truly misgauge how great an impact is necessary to create change.
I think many people who fear to move to do so out of an idea that if they cannot change the world, the movement will have failed. In truth, even the smallest of actions can create great ripples, and such ripples need not change the world — just one other life.
Are you waiting to engage because you fear you can do too little? Or perhaps you think it requires too much? Do you fail to step out toward your passion because you think it is too lofty?
Let me part a small piece of advice as someone blessed enough to have sung in front of 40,000 people, self published a 700-page hardback novel, performed professional voice work for the likes of BBC, and anchored a small broadcast on a local public access channel for the military — pursuing your passions doesn’t need to start big to fulfill you. I’m 30 and I’ve done so much, and that inspires me more to think about what I might achieve in the next 10 years that would be even better than the last.
And growing up in no way entails losing your laughter or smile. It doesn’t mean you can’t watch cartoons any more or play outside. It doesn’t mean you can’t go have a great time with your friends at a bar or go mudding or swimming at the lake. You don’t give up living life just because you leave behind immaturity. It means you know when to be serious and when to be silly.
It’s recognizing that life is full of change, and that because change is of the most inevitable elements of life, it is therefore one of the most stable elements of life. Embrace change, expect it and learn first how to adapt to it. Enjoy life without giving away your faculties through drunkenness or getting slovenly high. It doesn’t make your recreation of alcohol or pot evil, only when you use it to such excess that you lose your ability to use your intelligence and coherence.
Don’t wait till you think you have it figured out to begin assuming a role of responsibility or even leadership in your life. Step out boldly — not toward irresponsible recreation, but toward your own future benefit and that of your future family (should you want one).