okay, so I’ve seen multiple posts just today that were basically like “haha who ever said adulthood was having your life together and everything figured out, I’m 28 and real life is drowning me as much as it ever was”
and like…the answer to that is…adults. adults said that. generation after generation, the narrative from adults to young people has been, “you are a dumb kid who doesn’t know the world or yourself but I am a Grownup with Life Experience™, and that’s why you’re supposed to do what I tell you, that’s why I don’t need to listen to your thoughts and feelings, that’s why society imagines me as a full human being and you as something that’s going to grow into a full human being.”
there’s a great book all about this that I’ve had a lot of my students read - Childhood and Society, by a sociologist named Nick Lee. Lee argues that the child/adult binary is a socially constructed one, based, like any other such binary, on an imagined idea of clearly oppositional characteristics.
specifically, he says that children are imagined as incomplete, unstable (as in their lives and experiences are constantly changing, not as in mentally unstable), and dependent, and adults as complete, stable, and independent.
those characteristics don’t match up to reality if you think about them too hard for even a moment - no one is truly independent, adults’ lives aren’t stable, what does judging a human being’s “completeness” even mean - but it doesn’t matter, because our culture is so obsessed with believing in them.
and adults being forced to pretend they’re complete and independent and living stable lives is one of the toxic ways all this plays on people of all ages.
I really hope that seeing my generation talk like this - just flat-out admit that we don’t know what the hell we’re doing any better than we did ten years ago - means we have the potential to break this cycle. but honestly, entering my 30s and having seen so many people my age turn into those adults who act like they have life so well figured out compared to those dumb kids, it doesn’t seem likely. we might be a little better than we could’ve been, but too many of us are going down that tired old road of transitioning from talking about how much smarter we are than our parents to talking about how much smarter we are than our kids, just like every generation does when it hits this age.
I guess what I’m saying is, please, young 20-somethings of today, be better ten years from now than we are.