Cat Rocketship: Coming up on 30 feels great
I am almost 30! When I become 30 I will definitely be an adult. I am more excited to hit this milestone than I was to reach 18 or 21, because I entered those years absolutely convinced life's best years were behind me. I looked ahead and saw the misery of adulthood: stress, babies, stress, boredom, stress, and disappointment over my wasted youth.
Oh, how wrong I was. How wrong many of us are about the reality of growing up.
Wrong: Adults know what they're doing (and you will know what you're doing one day, when you're an adult.) As kids we heard, "you'll understand one day, when you're grown." It taught us that adults have the secrets of the universe, that they Hoovered up enough knowledge over the years to have every possible answer at their disposal. Adults paid attention in school, met their goals, and received, along with their high school diploma, a map for their lives.
Thus, adults can see the road ahead, linking them to their future, and they're prepared to meet challenges along the way. Adults have their shit together.
Less wrong: Fully-grown humans often don't know what they're doing next week, let alone how to meet their goals. That high school diploma most of us have didn't come with any secrets of the universe.
The only thing adults have over larval humans is a mature prefrontal cortex, which continues trimming pathways through about age 26. This lobe of the brain sits behind our forehead, and is the most responsible bit of our brains: the PFC handles "executive functions" like problem solving, decision making, concentration, judgment, working toward defined goals, and social control.
The prefrontal cortex is handy — without it, we are irritable and make poor life choices — but it's no secret society handbook on how the world works.
Wrong: Adults do ______. Adults are not predictable. One may get married and have kids, while another just gets married, and another just has kids. Most adults have jobs, some are professional slackers. Some play video games all night long. Some adults make video games. Some adults like to wear diapers or join a furry community.
Less wrong: Adults are pressured to conform to a variety of social norms, but the happiest adults cherry-pick their indulgences and responsibilities. The correct way to finish the header of this paragraph is "whatever." "Adults do whatever" makes them happy/they need to do/is required of them. Adults make their own choices, and are responsible for their fulfillment or dashed dreams.
Wrong: Adults are boring. Grownups are staid, straight-laced, by-the-book sort of people. They've sown their oats and routed traces of unconventional thoughts from their minds. For best results, their imaginations are surgically removed.
Less wrong: Whether 10 or 100, only an unstimulated mind is boring. Turns out that getting out of school, finding exceptional friends, developing engaging hobbies, and pursuing their passions makes good adults an endless source of fascinating stories and inspiration to other people, young or old.
So, coming up on 30 feels great. I'm looking forward with gusto to learning how I was wrong about being 30something.