Updated: Sep 15
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Youth Culture and our lack of appreciation for Adulting.
In a Youth Culture- responsibility (of people/places/things) is desired because it ties to social status and interestingly being able to "get away" with not being responsible for our actions is often admired. Which sounds like a pretty sweet deal! The problem of course, comes when real "Life Happens". And it does. When we are irresponsible and harm the people/places/things there ARE consequences.
In a world where science is working so hard to keep us alive longer- wouldn't it follow that we'd want to reverse this trend? Centuries ago, you'd have a better chance of blowing it all, living an irresponsible life and then kicking the bucket in your 50's... today, not so much.
While it may not seem like it- this post is for Millennials and Gen-Xers.
I know that giving the top 5 things to do, or packing this into a meme might help this be absorbed faster. But I'm going to encourage a little reading- it's not that long and the point is important.
I was taught the right lessons- but I didn't begin to embrace Adulting and really pay attention to the examples I had in my life until my 40's. Don't do what I did! You can create a better path for yourself
The sooner we start Adulting- the faster we begin to put our energy into the things we really want to begin winning in Life.
I was recently invited to be a guest at the Modern Elder Academy (MEA), a right time, right now retreat designed to celebrate Mid-Life. Chip Conley, successful business leader, executive guru and author created the academy as a result of his personal journey described in his recent book, Wisdom@Work.
Graduates from MEA were asked to identify others the thought might be good candidates. I dutifully invited individuals I thought would enjoy the program focused on teaching the benefits of Adulting into the second half of life. Interestingly, I received several notes from the people I invited- who shared their anxiety, denial and resentment at being invited. The signal was clear- our youth-obsessed culture had diminished any pride they might have had at being recognized and celebrated for their life experience.
The Wise Elders in my life are have shown me how to be proud of getting older. They share all the positive aspects normally associated with youth- high energy, rebellious against social expectations and curiosity in all things- combined with incredible responsibility to their families, communities- and most importantly themselves. The lessons they teach are how to celebrate real life- not to get caught up in forcing or constructing experiences- but rather to be more aware at the opportunities we're faced with every day and grow from them.
The bad news is there's no shortcut to Adulting.
Think about this.
Our rational, system processing brain knows we are aging. However, our emotional brain often gets stuck in Adolescent mode. "I don't want to grow up" because it is being fed a constant diet of content that is our youth-obsessed American culture. Many never begin adulting as a result, and are constantly in emotional pain, anger and denial when real life (meaning the consequences of irresponsible action) begin to happen. We can run- but life finds us.
Avoidance and guilt use up a LOT of brain power. Seriously- it's pretty startling to think about how much energy is wasted in avoiding instead of Adulting. The energy we used to avoid apologizing that we could have use to generate positive fun activities. The everyday brain power we waste, hating certain tasks (laundry, dishes, etc.) instead of just considering part of what we do- find ways to enjoy them.
The good news is, once you start, you begin to wonder why everyone doesn't do it.
What I've discovered is when I've consciously practiced emotional responsibility for my actions- Everything Gets Easier. This ranges from everyday stuff - cleaning, cooking, being kind to people I care for- to big things like being responsible for my actions and owning my responsibility to creating my own happiness.
In short, I encourage you to start now- identify the things you avoid- that you have created emotional blocks around. Write them down, then start to pay attention to how long they actually take. You'll be amazed at how much easier it is to JUST DO IT, instead of pretending it will magically get done.
When we are thirteen- sometimes- things magically get done (by an adult). When we are thirty, we need to be the magic in our own lives.