Sunday, February 6, 2011

On Young Adulthood

Biologically speaking, there are six stages in the human life cycle:
  1. Prenatal
  2. Baby/Infant/Todler/thing
  3. Child
  4. Adolescent
  5. Adult
  6. Geriatric/Aged/Pre-Dead
Each of those has a definable gear-up period, a dominant characteristic in homeostasis and a definable transition to the next phase. You are a fetus which isn't yet a separate person (geographically speaking), then it's born and it is suddenly a baby.

Babies aren't real people. They don't do much of anything, really, besides absorb as much nourishment as they can and expend most of their energy trying to metamorphose into a tiny thing capable of replicating Real Person behavior. When they can communicate with others and start to interact of their own accord, moving about under their own power, they have gradually managed to become a child.

Children are basically Tiny Dumb People. They are not stupid (yet), they are merely uneducated. Their purpose is to learn the ways of the world so that they will be capable of surviving to adulthood and reproducing. They spend most of their time in school and pretending that they are already grownups.

Then puberty hits and suddenly we have teenagers. Adolescence is a bitch, but it's the cocoon phase, an apt analogy considering how many times the average teen will vow something to the effect of, "I'm never leaving my room ever again!" Luckily, puberty ends and we're left with, naturally speaking now, a viable adult. The body is not going to grow in weird ways again for a few decades, eyesight will stabilize for a time and hair stops growing in places you didn't already need to keep warmer.

Adults are just the longest period of homeostasis wherein you are expected to pass on your genetics as much as possible until your body starts to fail. Old Age then, is more the process by which Adulthood transitions into Death, but considering how long it takes and that an individual can have a long, productive existence after their genitals stop working effectively, I would consider this a separate stage in life development. The ultimate, usually gradual failure of various body functions is what inevitably kills the Old As Dirt.

I now propose a seventh stage of human development, to be recognized between the transition to biological adulthood and what would societally be recognized as functional adulthood. It's the period where, yeah, you could, I suppose, have kids and make a living for yourselves and them, but it'd really be better for everyone in your genetic line to just wait, accrue some financial security and some business acumen before making the well-pondered decision to add a twenty-year burden to your own existence.

I was listening to music in the car when Ke$ha came on and asked if I wanted to have a slumber party in her basement. You are twenty-three years old, Kesha. And you have millions of dollars, not including the ones you format your name with. (Aside: Are those her dollars? I wonder if she's actually quite poor because every time someone actually writes her name with the little dollar symbol she has to pay for it. It must be so, because I can't imagine anyone willingly doing this on their own.)

Now, I'm twenty-four, and I still live in my mother's house, but I'm a poor starving artiste. I don't have money. I don't even have a basement. Granted, I have very nice things, but I'm a year older than Kesha and my endeavors aren't the kind that pay a salary until I've finished and sold them. Ostensibly, Kesha has her own basement. I don't understand why we have to sleep down there? Can't we just boink in her room? I'm sure she has a very nice bed. I'm pretty sure I've even seen it in music videos. It looks quite comfortable after a wicked bender.

Ke$ha, sweetie, most of the time we sleep in bathtubs because
we're too poor to afford a hotel room with more than two beds
and a couch. It's okay to go home to your mansion at night.

And that brings it back to my point: Kesha is a role model, sadly, and she is younger than I am. More than that, she's societally recognized as a commercially successful person who is biologically speaking an adult. Even considering the percentage of her life that is acting irresponsibly, she's still making the conscious choice to be irresponsible. I'm not saying that's invalid, actually, it's a wonderful, hedonistic existence with few consequences when you get to be that level of rich and famous. Frankly, it's what everyone our age strives for. And if you succeed, well, you just netted a boat load of cash for you and your future family, didn't you? It's a low-stakes gamble with tremendous pay-offs for the winners. It's a lotto for meteoric rises in the world of famous douchery.

I think we can all agree this is not responsible adult behavior, whether or not it has its own validity and charm. This is why we need a newly recognized stage in human development, with a name that acknowledges the optimistic and idyllic attempts at actively being a beautiful and unique snowflake, before conservative judgment and normality overtake the hope and crush it into a tidy fear of failure.

Since it stopped being acceptable to use the word "retarded," I vote we use that.


  1. I was going to comment with a series of emoticons, but my heart just wasn't in it, and I figured you would be able to tell. In any case, well done, sir.

  2. That was probably a very good decision on your part.

    Colon, capital-p.


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