Growing up, many adults told me how much they wished they were kids again. “You have it so easy!” they’d tell me. At my 10th birthday party my aunt said, “Double digits now. It’s all downhill from here.” Wow, what a great start to the rest of my life. And sadly, I believed her for a long time. There’s no worrying about bills when you’re a little kid. No insurance hassles or big, important decisions. No phone calls to catch up with, or any of the hundreds of tasks adults do that kids don’t have to even ponder about. The insurance commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAAvZURxFFw) where kids have adult problems is so cute- it’s funny to see them upset at the problems they’ll inevitably really have to deal with.
As much as adults kept telling me how lucky I was to be a kid, I could never really grasp how I was the one who had it easy. As a kid, you’re not in control of anything! I thought that was much worse than their “problems.” Sure I have fond memories from childhood- being outside for hours at a time, riding my bike all over, constantly being around friends- my childhood was a great one, and my parents did an awesome job raising us. But being as obstinate as a mule, I always wished I was more in control of my time, or at least had a say in any matter.
Why is this such a big deal to kids? Because the freedom to be in control of ourselves is what makes us happy; that’s the basic principle our country was founded on. Take these quotes from the article “Free People Are Happy People —especially when strong personal morality guides their choices” by Arthur C. Brooks, professor at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Affairs (http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_2_happy_people.html)
“Understanding freedom is a matter of no small importance. The Founders believed that it was one of at least three fundamental rights from God, along with life and the pursuit of happiness. These three rights are interrelated: not only does liberty, of course, depend on life, but the pursuit of happiness depends on liberty. In fact, evidence shows that freedom and happiness are strongly linked.”
“[Research] also revealed that people who said that they felt completely or very free were twice as likely to say that they were very happy about their lives as those who felt only a moderate degree of freedom, not much, or none at all. Even when holding income, sex, education, race, religion, politics, and family status constant, we find that people who felt free were about 18 percentage points more likely than others to say that they were very happy.”
So freedom does matter. And even during early adulthood, I didn’t feel nearly as free as I do now. During high school and college, I was more ambitious in the sleeping and socializing departments than I was academically. I didn’t have the freedom to explore what I was naturally interested in, as I do as an adult, so I didn’t learn too much. You are coerced to go along with the educational system, which imply, “Sit here! No moving! Don’t ask questions! We are the authority, and you must submit at once!” In fact, Robert Kiyosaki, and many others, insist that the current education system was put in place when our country needed factory workers- when free thinking was looked down upon. The system needed to make more docile creatures out of us so we’d do our jobs without questioning- hence the nature of our education system. Regardless of whether this is true, it’s simply not the environment or style of learning that is the best fit for many personalities- if you’re like me, you tend to question everything, and learn way more on your own.
So my formative years were long ones for me, and not nearly as fun as my adult years have been. What I love about adulthood is the freedom that comes along with it. If you are 18 or under and reading this, trust me, it gets better. I can now choose everything about my life. And there’s no blaming anyone for my failures anymore. It’s my responsibility to make whatever I want out of this life- how much money I make, where I live, who I hang out with, what kind of kids I raise…
Which brings up another aspect of adulthood that comes along for many adults: parenting. Parenting has taught me so much about life. What I love most about it is the constant refinement your parenting skills must go through. If you are intentional about life in general, you are constantly refining yourself into the best version of yourself. But with parenting, you’re forced to do this: Your child keeps growing and going through different stages, so you must change your tactics or they’ll quickly become futile. Every few weeks, it seems I’m behind on something I need to be teaching or disciplining my son for. And he’s only 18 months! I don’t reckon it’s going to get easier for a while; each stage will have a whole new set of dilemmas. And I’m so thankful for those chances of further discovery about my offspring, myself, and the world.
Summarily, I just want to encourage everyone to be grateful to be an adult. Afterall, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter, so start enjoying it. Think of it as your journey towards the most awesome version of you, and good luck on it!