Early childhood memories
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On what ‘growing up’ means to the majority of adult people

[ 3 min read ]

When adults expect children and young adults to grow up, they actually don’t expect them to become fully independent human beings, responsible for their life choices. Most of those adults / parents won’t let their offspring make their own autonomous life choices — they still want to be able to steer their lives in adulthood. They can’t fully trust them and also trust that it will all turn out OK if they (adults) back off. Plus they want their own life philosphy and beliefs validated by the next generation.

What they really want (but are often unaware of it) is that those young people will become like them. Which means they should contract / develop the same worries, insecurities and fears they (the adults or “normal adults”) have. They should think in the same way about work, pleasure, family, parenting, death, etc. (life).

That’s the most widespread notion of growing up in our society. Not becoming independent and taking 100% responsibility for your life (making your own life choices and being responsible for the outcomes of those choices), but rather turning into a “real adult” (like their parents and the adults they know).

And since most people don’t take 100% responsibility for their lives (because that’s not what growing up is in our society and that’s not what they’re taught) most parents don’t expect those young people to take over. They really don’t. They don’t want their children to develop their own definitions and abandon the definitions their parents espoused. They don’t want their children to question the tried and true methods. They don’t want their children to suddenly change the religion or become atheists (stop believing what the rest of the family believes). They don’t want their children to not care about the conventional success.

They only want them to become serious, forget that they were once children (childlike) and, as I said, have the same worries, insecurities and fears they (the adults. or “normal adults”) have. Think about building their career, or forming relationships and families, or raising children in the same way — in other words have basically the same life philosophy.

That’s what growing up is for most people (adult people but also teenagers and young adults in their early 20s — it gets passed down from one generation to the next).

Why rebels have it so tough? Because they defy conventions and standards of behavior. And they are often labelled ‘irresponsible adults’, ‘kids in a grown up body’. Why? Only because they don’t fit the “normal” / standard image of an adult in our society. They’re probably not worried or anxious like the rest of the society, they don’t plan their retirement and they don’t save up for it (because they don’t get this idea), they take risks all the time, or they do weird things, they act in a childlike manner.

It’s almost never about being able to make your own autonomous life choices and taking 100% responsibility for the outcomes, adulthood. It’s about fitting the predefined image of an adult. If you don’t behave like “normal adults” do, you will hear that you didn’t become one.