Generally speaking, our society sucks.
Well maybe it’s not the society but rather it’s expectations, value propositions, and general fobias, isms, and ogonies. And this isn’t to say I am ungrateful for how far we have come or that I want to sound like a broken record but sometimes it feels like we could do and know and be much better but we stop short of actually trying.
Let me explain.
At what age did you feel like an adult? 14? 16? 18? 21? 40? Or maybe it was earlier or maybe it was later depending on experiences and milestones or definitive losses. But by that logic what do we actually mark as the end of youth? Is it a girls first period? The first time a guy gets told to “be a man”. The first time you get profiled? The first time any gender engages in consensual sex? The day you realize that the body you are in isn’t the one you’re meant to have? The day you lose a parent? The first time you’re expected to take all the responsibilities of an adult or a parent without the title or recognition? What about the biological timeframe in which someone’s frontal lobe becomes fully developed? But probably not that one because by that logic we’d be calling men boys a lot longer, and they definitely couldn’t handle that. And obviously the list could go on and on so what’s the point?
As kids we spend a majority of our time wishing away youth because there’s this expectation that, when we reach a certain age, we’ll finally get respect or money or love and I’m sorry but that’s bullshit. It’s utter bullshit that any age or milestone could put us in the box of being an adult and more so, it’s ridiculous, because depending on certain cultures milestones hit a lot earlier. And not to delve to deep into the realm of darkness but our world is twisted, and some really sick people are known to sexualize children at far too young an age while others look at young boys of color and in an instant change their status from innocent child to dangerous threat.
So I guess the question should be – how does a kid get deemed old enough for someone to sexualize or even weaponize but not old enough to receive decency and respect. How can we perpetuate a culture where labels are used and weaponized out of convenience rather than logic. And where we decide which children get protected and which ones don’t deserve it. And I know at a basic level the answer to that is easy – it’s all about control. Controlling people and controlling the narrative.
So let’s talk Control
At what age did you realize your body wasn’t yours, and how long, or at what age, did you finally take it back? It’s a loaded question isn’t it, but it’s also a fair one.
See young women these days are sometimes asked, what was the first time you were sexually harassed (or sexualized) – and some of the answers are utterly terrifying. Young women bring up ages above and below 10 or 12, they bring up cases where it was a family member or maybe an older person they worked with – and as women we get mad but we nod because whoever’s story we’re hearing isn’t uncommon or unheard of. And as a woman I can’t speak to the male experience, but I know it happens to them too because it can be as innocuous as asking a young boy if he has a girlfriend yet.
And obviously it doesn’t solely limit itself to sexuality or relationships. In fact it starts earlier where we’re essentially taught to question ourselves and what we’re feeling to the point that we think ourself crazy.
For example – At what age were you made to believe that your emotions weren’t valid? And I know today we know this to be a mens and women’s issue but it’s also a issue of youth. Like – At what age were you filled with unbearable sadness but told that it wasn’t real or that you were being dramatic (by an adult) because from that adults experience the issue you were facing was so simple to them. Or- At what age did you love someone or something, so deeply that you couldn’t imagine life without it, but were told it wasn’t real because you were too young to know what love is? And obviously this love coincides with the knowledge that you can love your family or friends or even your pets – so when they say you’re too young for love it’s really the fact that people associate love with physical actions rather than emotional intimacy or connection so they dismiss your emotions because those physical things shouldn’t happen yet.
So ultimately the question becomes who draws the line between consoling, and invalidating? Or gaslighting and the fear that their children or these children are growing up too fast and we’re just not ready for it? At which point the answer brings us back to an issue of control, which is very hard to maintain and keep track of (especially with a vice like grip).
In short – Adulthood is a joke
If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’ll say it straight up. Being an “adult” is a joke.
I saw this video last night that asked people to comment the biggest lie their parents told them and when they realized it wasn’t true. One guys answer was simple – he realized that all adults had no idea what they were doing and that everyone he looked up to was just doing the best they could – and for some reason that lead him to believe that they had it all figured out. But he now knew definitively, that they didn’t because now that he was an “adult” he could confirm that he had no idea what he was doing.
Give it bunny ears (tie it together)
So obviously I threw a lot of heavy topics out in a pretty brief blog – so let’s tie it all together.
Youth isn’t a construct, but the way we handle it is. In life there are going to be inherent contradictions, but the ones that are most prevalent today, the ones where we strip a kid of their youth through unspeakable violence or where we define the cans and can’ts of life and growing up without half the people who are doing the growing, the ones where we attribute actions or emotions to being grown up but then excuse people who take advantage of being grown. So yeah youth isn’t a construct, but it’s manipulated and treated like the rest. So I guess what I’m saying is that as “adults”, and I use that term loosely, some of us need to learn to take ourselves a little less seriously. We need to acknowledge ego and allow it to exist without weaponizing it against others. We need to take children more seriously, realizing that they aren’t as ignorant as we would prefer them to be and we need to protect them by educating them better, rather than putting up guard rails and wrapping them in bubble wrap. And as someone who isn’t a parent – I find it important to note that when I say “children” I mean more than just k-12, because at 25 I know I’m very far from full grown and that I still have quite a bit of work to do.
So I guess what I’m really saying is that maybe being a “real adult” is about learning to trade out control for compassion and realizing that we all could do a little better because all of us still have a lot to learn.