Why is there such a big deal made when children approach, reach, or have a protracted stay within stages of puberty? Sure, the side effects are occasionally clumsy and represent not an altogether graceful time in our lives, but we are mostly at the mercy of biology. Awkward is part of the deal.
Adulthood, too, has experienced its share of criticism, particularly in the form of accusations that Gen Y’ers and the “millennials” are just not growing up: they are returning to live at home, delaying career decisions in favor of acquiring adventures or experiences, and generally are unprepared to meet the requirements set out by anyone and everyone with access to a digital composing device and a blog. (#ironysmile) A mere sampling of the helpful guides:
- The 50 signs you are a grown-up – from the Telegraph
- 4 Signs of Adulthood for Reluctant Grown Ups — from (the appropriately named) Cracked.com
- 14 Signs You Are Really, Truly An Adult – from the always entertaining Buzzfeed, complete with pictures overlaid with cheeky phrases
So whether you think the correct number of signs 50, 4, 14, or some other magical integer makes no difference to me. I’m convinced that one true sign of this mythical transition into a not-at-all stagnant notion of adulthood is the ability to advocate for something that you, yourself, may not be fully committed to or wholeheartedly believe — but you do so, anyway, because you can imagine the greater good. (And I mean this as separate from parenthood, which seems to breed its own form of utter selflessness that astounds the rest of us.)
Such a trait is certainly not the domain of the chronologically advanced alone. Plenty of children express the characteristic of making decisions in someone else’s interest, however Darwinian tendencies quickly squash these impulses for the most part — well, Darwin and the thorny institutional landscapes deeply embedded with meritocratic manifestation of his propositions.
This feels different, somehow, than hypocrisy or being disingenuous with oneself. Or so I have allowed myself to believe.
The greater good. A sign of maturity or the hallmark of the duped?
I’m not sure. But let’s stop fretting about the fate of the puberty generation and attend to the post-puberty, to the para-biological, to the needs of the “grown, but challenged.”