What does it mean to be an adult? Over the past few months this is a question that has popped up several times in my office and my personal life. While I think everyone has their own idea of what that means, there are a few themes that pop up. Many people associate adulthood with being responsible, self-sufficient, and making healthy choices. There are also stages of life that come into play with adulthood; living on your own, buying a house, starting a career, finding a partner, and having a family. Can we be an adult if we don’t follow a timeline? How do we start to question and challenge beliefs that have become so ingrained in us?
I think for many of us adulthood is a scary concept. It means we are supposed to have our crap together and know what we are doing. Is that ever realistic? No wonder we have more and more twenty somethings taking longer to leave the nest and get into the work world – it’s scary. There is so much pressure to act a certain way to live your life within a certain means. Wouldn’t that be freeing to be able to let some of that go? Growing up, we are free to explore our surroundings, free to find humor and adventure in various situations. If we were to bring that sense of adventure and enthusiasm back to our adult years, I think we would have a much more relaxed and positive adult population.
It is possible to tone down the seriousness of adulthood and bring back the fun? Sure, being an adult does have some responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean life can’t be fun or things that used to be funny aren’t anymore. What if we started bringing back some of our youth into adulthood? Maybe this means refocusing on activities we used to find enjoyable, maybe it means bringing back practical jokes and gags. At one place I used to work, our supervisor would prank people periodically by placing mini marshmellows over the entire office. Was it immature? Yes, did it get a laugh? Absolutely. Did it make the work atmosphere more enjoyable? Definitely. If we find ways to loosen the necktie, I would venture our overall wellbeing would improve and we would feel a whole lot less pressure because we are too busy enjoying ourselves.