Friday, May 1, 2015

Did I Ever Truly Grow Up?

Around the year 2000, the world started to seem like a very dark place, for more than one reason.  After starting middle school, I had to deal with kids who were much worse than anything I ever faced previously, and the teachers and other authority figures refused to do anything, even though their actions were flagrantly defiant of school rules; my mom started a daycare in her own house, and I was shocked to see little kids uttering unfit-for-TV profanities, not to mention the serious immaturity of some of the parents; family problems became much worse, in more than one way; and, all in all, I was much less happy both during and after that time, because I just didn't care for what the world had to offer.  It wasn't that elementary school was perfect--it wasn't--but, the problems I faced back then were generally rectified in a much easier way.

In the years since Y2K, while others around me seem to have grown up, I'm twenty-seven years old...but I still feel like a kid.  It's more than just my entertainment diet, though that does consist of many kid shows, and not just ones from the Disney Channel.  Rather, I simply don't feel like a young adult; though I graduated from high school nearly a decade ago, I feel like I should still be in school.  In fact, you've probably seen or heard me talk about incidents from ages ago in such detail, it sounds as if they happened last week.

My condition falls into the category of "developmental delays"; for those who don't know, that pretty much means that you're behind in some way--in my case, socially--for your age.  Just like with everyone else, development--of any kind--happens in its own time, but, in my situation, the literature says "late could be by several decades." When I was nineteen, my mom told me I acted like I was nine; in the eight years since, I don't seem to have progressed all that much.  Sure, I've become much more introspective, and I've done great things like doing away with the celebrity crushes...but, I'm still very much a kid at heart.

Sometimes, I feel like being an adult is overrated.  When most people think of maturity, they think of adults, but, in this day and age, "grown-ups" can be anything but mature.  I've known too many grown men and women who acted like they were in middle school.  In fact, I sometimes think that elementary schoolers are actually more mature than older kids; when I was in sixth grade, I was good friends with two brothers--one in fourth grade, the other in third--who were not only smart kids, but much more mature than my middle school classmates.

More to the point: You probably know someone who is commonly thought to be older or younger than he/she truly is.  Some of that is because of physical appearance, but it's also due to how one comports himself/herself.  I sometimes wonder if people think I'm younger than I truly am because of my love for kid-friendly media, such as superhero cartoons and "tween" sitcoms.  That is what I like, but it's not exactly the most popular thing with my age group.

At a certain time in every kid's life--usually around the time they start middle school--they put supposedly "childish" things behind them and attempt to be adults, even though they're quite far from true adulthood.  That actually never happened with me, though; when I started sixth grade, I was a die-hard fan of Scooby-Doo and Pokémon, two franchises which were made with children in mind.  Though I did know some kids who liked one or both of those, most of my sixth grade classmates either despised "those meddling kids" and those pocket monsters from the start of the year, or liked one or both at the start of the year only to give it up well before summer break started.  My childish tastes continued in high school, when I was known as the Disney Channel guy, for good or for ill, by pretty much anyone who knew me.  It's still the case, and not just with the Mouse network; I still enjoy many of the things I did when I was in elementary school, including not only Scooby-Doo, but Power Rangers as well.  I find that I can't deal with most secular non-kiddie entertainment; it either upsets me or bores me.  The only exception is old-school sitcoms, and even many of the ones I like or have liked had episodes I didn't care for due to their subject matter.

One of the reasons elementary school seems as idyllic as it does is because, back then, people were expected to own up for their mistakes.  Back then, if any kids said or did the wrong thing, there usually were consequences of some sort...but, from middle school onward, when my feelings were hurt by others, I was just expected to suck it up and move on...which is something I've never been comfortable with.  Seriously, no one deserves to be essentially bullied or harassed, but it's happened to me for ages, and no one seems to care; why can't someone take people to task for being jerks?

If you grew up in the '90's like I did--or even if you didn't--you probably have seen Casper, the big-screen remake of the old-school "friendly ghost" cartoon.  It's kind of a depressing movie to me now, because it's all about death, and, over the past decade or so, I've learned that such a thing is no joke.  Anyway, one scene I remember is when main villainess Carrigan Crittenden, who inadvertently caused her own demise and came back as a ghost, is vanquished by the film's heroes Kat and Casper through trickery.  When they tell her that the only reason she is a ghost is because she has "unfinished business," she denies it...and immediately begins to "cross over" into...well, what seems to be the afterlife.  That film has some serious spiritual issues, but, the reason I mention it is because I feel like part of why I still feel like a kid is because of my unfinished business.  In my younger years, I messed up a lot of things; I had potential to do much more than I actually did, especially in school.  I also missed out on quite a bit of good entertainment because of dumb rules I had about what I would and wouldn't watch, read, listen to, or play.  That's why I've spent much of the past few years playing catch-up; if it weren't for modern technology--season sets on DVD, the iTunes Store, our Verizon DVR, etc.--I'd still be missing out on such media.

Here is my concluding point: Jesus was known for caring for and praising children.  In Matthew 11:25, He said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." Most people would think that Biblical concepts are too difficult for kids to understand, but, when it comes to the really important ones, they could really comprehend them just fine.  What I wonder is: When the Bible talks praises that including adults who, for one reason or another, think like children? I've been praised for my knowledge of the Bible and my dedication to morality; maybe other people should try digging into the Word instead of trying to defend everything they do, because it's not really that hard to understand.


Arwen Sodan said...

I am writing this as I am reading, as I always forget what I wanted to say when I go back to leave a comment.

I hated middle school too. I was picked on and someone even SPIT in my hair. That time stinks in general I think. :P

Sometimes its better to not grow up, but the feeling of seeming to be in the same place as you were when you were back in elementary and middle school a lot of the tims can helped by doing things that make you feel more independent. Even small things can help. I look back and remember how my mom used to make all of my doctors appointments, and how when I turned 18 the idea of me making my own appointments never even crossed my mind. It was only when my mom confronted me about the fact that certain appointments were not yet scheduled that I began to start to understand that there were things to adulthood that don't cross your mind until they are pointed out. I should have know that that was something which was my responsibility as an adult, and when it did not get done, no matter how many excuses I made, it was solely my responsibility. It was because of my ignorance on simple adult task, task that give me independence(even if only a little), that important things were not being done and I could no longer use my mother as a crutch as the reason I was irresponsible. Doing those things for myself are a huge part of adulthood and maturity, and it was only then that I started to understand that the world was much larger than myself.

Arwen Sodan said...

At the same time having someone who can help you, and guide you through those things that we don't think about until they are pointed out, that come with maturity and self awareness, can be greatly beneficial and efficient. Humanities greatest gift is that we can teach, record, and remember things that have already been learned by others long before us. It is how we continue to advance. It's the reason we don't have to keep inventing the wheel. Navigating the water of adulthood are no exception. Be willing to listen, learn, and act and you will be surprised by how much independence that can give you. If you need advice, opinions, or simply want to how to do something never be afraid to admit your ignorance. How else can we learn to be better?

There are people out there who are 75 and still have no idea what is socially acceptable. And, honestly, what is socially acceptable can change. At one time it was not socially acceptable for women to wear hats to church, if I remember correctly, but now that ok. Social awareness and social maturity are not something that can be learned by books or videos, it can only be learned by being there, and being and interacting with people. You can't do it alone, and it takes lots of practice.

I actually think you are in your mid to late 20' when I read your post. Socially maturity is not the only aspect of maturity in my opinion.

I never "grew up" in what I enjoy and love. I love Pokemon. I love anime and manga. I love comics. I love candy. I love everything about being young and alive. Think about how you view the world as a child. Full of wonder. Full of questions. Full of that burning thirst to be part of and experience the world around us. When you never lose that simple love of life, when you never lose that childlike excitement about the things that happen to you in life, thats when you truly live. It does not matter if you are a 2 of 102, it's only then that you know what it means to be human, and to be alive. The only difficulty with watching or loving "kid" things are that they sadly don't teach you how to interact with the other 90% of humanity, who are boring adults that grew up and now have lost that "childlike fire", that those who know what life's really about, experience.

Those 90% are also sheep. Only about 10% of humans are willing to go against the norm. The only way to fix that is to be an example in everything that you do. I was bullied a lot in middle school. That was around that same time I was diagnosed with Crohn's so needless to say it was difficult, and since then I will never sit by and let someone be bullied. Sadly, that is all we can do. Be an example and the sheep will follow.

I used to care about things I miss out on. I am sick every day, and 90% of my life is in extreme pain. This has taught me that each moment is important and that you are not really missing out on anything, because each human experience is unique. There are many, many people out there that will never get to do simple things like go to the movies, much less big life experiences. Hollywood makes it seem like there are all these rights of passages to life, and there really aren't. One of the reasons we had my wedding at my parents house was so I could have a place to go rest, and a bathroom where I could cry out in pain and have privacy. Each of us is unique, and our experiences are NOT what define us.

In my belief, the Creator wants us to be curious children even in adulthood. While somethings are important to know about adulthood, what really matters is that we never lose that simple, pure, love if simply living. Never lose that and the rest will follow.

Arwen Sodan said...

My post was too long for one comment. :P

Arwen Sodan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arwen Sodan said...,d.eXY> This is the link to The Butterfly Child

Arwen Sodan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arwen Sodan said...

Please click that link and watch. :)