I think many of us, if not all, wanted to grow up and be adults as fast as we can. We wanted that fast-track to freedom. Being told “you’re so mature” was a huge compliment from people we considered adults.
For me, the moment my parents responded with “you can buy it with your own money” when I asked for a little treat on a random day, I realized the freedom that adults have. You mean I don’t have to ask permission to buy ice cream? I just… buy it?
But of course, being an adult is so much more than that.
I’ve gone to mention this a few times since I turned 25-ish… adulthood is a scam! The bills, the rent, the prices of kitchenware and spices and household furnishings… the price of owning a home! We can’t afford shit.
But there’s one other thing no one ever warned us about when we reach “adulthood”: our parents (and other parent-figures in our lives) get older.
It starts with you slowly realizing in your 20’s that, hey, mom and dad are just figuring life out too. There’s no guidebook or instruction manual to living life. They’ve made mistakes, and worked with what they’ve got, and that’s what you’re doing too. Wild!
Then you notice somethings change in your body. Back aches first thing in the morning – ah, that’s why your dad did those silly morning stretches when you were a kid. Some dark spots appear on your skin – kinda similar to your mom’s shoulder freckles. More strands of grey hair appear. Some lines on your forehead suddenly show up.
And when you dig up your baby photos, you realize how similar – almost identical! – you are to your mom or your dad. They were in their late-20s – your age now – when you were born. Life was different, maybe easier, you think. Then you pause for a second and think that maybe it wasn’t easy, they just made it work, just like you are doing now.
They probably struggled, just like you’re struggling right now. The context, the social norms, the situations, the technology, it may be different because you are in different generations, but they taught you and raised you. The coping mechanisms may be the same. Virtues and perspective and your stance might be slightly similar or might share the same foundations.
The worst though… is now that you know the struggle, and you still see your parents struggling or still hustling or still working long hours. You know how much it takes a toll on your almost-thirty-year-old body, and you could just imagine how hard it would be on your dad who is almost twice your age. They tell you to stop drinking or eating or partying or smoking your way to an early grave… but why are they working their bodies off to one???
When you realize that your parents are also flawed and human, just like you, things change. It’s like when you see your dad cry, or witnessing your mother realize she was wrong for the first time. That’s when you realize they’re not invincible, and you see them as bigger heroes. They’ve kept it together for decade years, meanwhile you’re scheduling 15-minute meltdowns once a week to stay sane.
You now hate getting older because your parents are also getting older.