Friday, December 4, 2015

Can We Talk About Adulting?

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope that you are all doing well. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm very excited that it's Friday. There have been a lot of great blessings this week, but yesterday was one of those days that I just wanted to be over (between random catastrophes, horrible traffic/thoughtless drivers, and a nearly day-long headache, I was so ready to curl up in bed and do nothing haha). But yes, we made it to Friday, it's the feast of St. John Damascene, and this weekend I get to see one of my very dearest friends perform Handel's Messiah!  In the midst of the craziness this week, I've been thinking about adulting. A year or two ago, I noticed that people were using the word "adult" as a verb, and regularly talking about "adulting." Every time I scroll through Facebook, it seems that there are articles, posts, and memes about adulting (or about trying to run away from adulting). As I muddle through this whole business of life myself, I want to briefly reflect on the "adulting" phenomenon that has gripped so many young adults. 

I've noticed that many people seem to equate adulting with graduating from college, as this fun blog post discusses. You graduate from high school, go to college and redefine yourself with minimal responsibilities, and when you graduate from college, you are finally an adult. After I graduated in May 2015, I cannot count how many friends of mine were bringing the message of "Wow, now I'm an adult" to social media. And I get it: people suddenly experience the weight of tremendous responsibilities and define all those as adulthood, so they sequester their fun, crazy adventures to pre-adult life. But does graduation really define the beginning of adulthood? Let's think about this for a minute:

So a person graduates from college at the age of 22 and therefore becomes an adult-yes? That's what a lot of our society is saying, anyway. Well, if this is so, what about people in other circumstances? 
What about the man who, after he graduated from high school, did not go to college because he wanted to become a farmer? 
What about the girl who graduated college when she was 20 years old? 
What about that 30-year-old college freshman? 
What about that woman who, after graduating high school, went to hairdressing school and held a full-time job at a fancy salon in less time than it took me to get an undergraduate degree? (just so you don't get worried, I'm not going to jump on my "college is not for everyone" soapbox today...maybe some other day I'll head down that rant haha)
Point being, there are people who hold full-time jobs at 18, 19, and 20 years old without going to college or because they graduated from college early. Does this make them more "adult" than 21-year-old undergraduate students? And does my college degree make me more "adult" than a current college student who is in his or her 30s? 

Maybe you think that I'm overanalyzing a trivial phenomenon, but I think this has serious implications. For example, my husband and I got engaged at 19 and married at 20. Most people were super supportive, but some people thought we shouldn't get married then. After all, marriage is a big commitment, a big, adult responsibility-so you should wait for another year or two, right? Underlying these views, I felt, was the popular belief which I mentioned above: a college degree makes an adult, but two rational, responsible undergraduate students do not have degrees, so they are not adults, and therefore should not marry. 
I know, it's silly. 
I think one of the huge reasons why I think this whole business is ridiculous is due to the fact that I grew up loving (and still love) the Little House on the Prairie books. In these books, I saw daily pioneer life, which wasn't all that long ago in the grand scheme of things. Those pioneer kids had huge responsibilities from a young age-from caring for livestock to babysitting their siblings while their parents were miles away-but they still had fun. Children could still be happy kids with piles of responsibility. 

I know that some cultures had special rituals that defined when boys and girls became men and women. In our society, it seems like this ritual comes in the form of the formal graduation ceremony. Honestly, I don't know if there was one defining moment when I became an adult. I guess that "moment" could be when I turned 18, because that made me a "legal adult," and could vote, go clubbing with my friends, and join "young adult groups"-but really, I think the whole process of adulting has been just that: a process. When I turned 18, a ton of responsibilities weren't suddenly hoisted onto my shoulders; I'd been growing, maturing, and gaining greater responsibility my whole life. From household chores as a young girl to working restaurant jobs as a high schooler, to paying for my own health insurance as a college student--adult responsibilities have been a gradual, natural development in my life. 

To my fellow adults, I encourage you-as you go through your life-to have fun. The pioneer kids taught me that children could be fun-loving and happy with piles of responsibility, and I think a lot of people could learn from this. Adulting isn't some big scary stack of responsibilities and boredom; adulting is simply living out your vocation as an adult-and this better include fun. It seems like people have to explain their fun-loving natures by saying that they are "bad" at adulting, and this makes me sad. Fellow adults, you do not have to apologize for or explain your obsession with Disney princess movies, Doctor Who, polka dots, or whatever random quirky thing you like. Don't let adulting kill your passions and replace them with buckets of responsibility; fully be your adult, responsible, fun-loving self, and enjoy it!  

On that note, since I don't know exactly how to conclude this post, I want to announce that we have now have an Advent wreath!! Y'all might remember that when we came home after Thanksgiving to an ice storm and power outage, looking for Advent decorations were not on the top of my priority list. But, I still really like Advent traditions and decorations. So, I present to you The Miller Family's  2/5 Blessed, Mismatched & Makeshift Advent Wreath! 

Basically, I had these two scented candles (one pink, one purple), and I realized that if I found 2 more purple candles, it could become a really random mismatched Advent wreath. If I felt like it, I could probably concoct some profound and strange significance, like the different candles embodying the distinctly distinct-yet unified-weeks of Advent. I was planning to go searching in a thrift store for candles yesterday afternoon, but at a church luncheon yesterday, (I'm proudly the youngest member in our parish's Altar Society), the ladies announced that there were these candles from past Advents, which could no longer be used in our parish. But, since they were blessed and still had plenty of candle-ness left, they needed a home. So I wound up with 2 lovely, blessed, beautiful purple candles and didn't have to go shopping later that day. God always provides! We happen to own a green apron (Christmas present a year or two ago from my family), so that became our "wreath," and voila! It's wonderful. I love it, and we totally ate breakfast in the dim light of our wreath this morning. Mmm....Advent is great. 

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