Friday, August 12, 2016

Why I Still Don't Feel Like an Adult...And Probably Never Will

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time hanging out with adults.  I usually preferred the company of people older than me because I couldn't stand the immaturity of people my age...and, to a degree, I still feel that way, as "young adults" can act like they're still in the seventh grade at times.  Still, I did have friends as a kid, though many of them I've hardly seen in years, as they moved away and/or we eventually lost contact.  While Facebook has helped on that front, it's hard when you don't have very much information to go on besides a very common first and last name combination.  When dealing with kids versus adults back then, there were some very big differences...and not just about maturity; in fact, while I knew plenty of immature kids, the ones who were my friends tended to act in a more mature way than many adults I knew.  Even less than two years away from the big three-oh, those traits are still true of most adults I know from anywhere--church, school, work, the neighborhood, my family, etc.--which is why I still feel like a kid among a bunch of adults.

What are the traits? First off: Adults can drive; kids can't. Yes, I know most people get their driver's license and first vehicle in high school, but I'm talking about "back in the day," like elementary or middle school.  If I knew an adult, chances were he or she could drive me from one place to another.  True, there were exceptions to that, but some of those people I had no idea lacked a driver's license until I was nearly an adult.  It wasn't even just me; some years ago, when I mentioned to some church friends that a fellow church member--remember, I don't name names on this blog!--didn't drive, people were shocked.  They had no idea because he/she didn't broadcast it like I always have; I've talked about it so much, people who don't even like me probably know I've never had my license.  Currently, most of the adults I know who don't drive are handicapped somehow...and I don't mean like I am with my "condition," which I've said before is not truly a disability.  However, despite the constant urging of others, I can't fight the feeling that driving is just not for me, for reasons that you may not know about.  The more I think about it, the more I think it's just not a good idea...but, because I don't drive, I feel like I'm still in elementary or middle school, relying on my family members and occasionally others to drive me to church, the used bookstore, garage sales, the doctor's office, etc.  Most of my friends my own age don't have to worry about that at all; they go and come as they please, and don't need someone else to take them where they need or want to go...which makes me feel like an outsider.

Second off: Adults are married or have been at one point; kids never have been. Again, there are exceptions to this rule, but...when I was a kid, I seldom knew any grown-ups who had never had a spouse.  Even if I never met their husband or wife, I knew that had said "I do" at one time in their lives.  My family members tended to get married young; in fact, the three women that raised me--my mom, my middle sister, and my grandmother--all got married when they were teenagers.  Even if I knew an adult who wasn't married when I first met him or her, they soon wed.  My fourth grade teacher wasn't married the year I had him, but he became that way the next year.  In seventh grade, my homeroom teacher had no husband, but a boyfriend who looked like Shaggy of Scooby-Doo fame...yet, I had her again eighth grade year, when she married him during Christmas break.  It was actually kind of funny: She went from a last name that everybody seemed to mispronounce or misspell to the surname Jones...which is something she said she had always hoped for.  Even the two teachers I had who were fresh out of college--my eighth grade Spanish teacher and my junior English teacher--were already married before the first day of class.

In recent times, while I do know some people around my age who aren't married and never have been, the list is getting shorter and shorter.  Just recently, a young lady on my friends list announced that she had been married for three months to a guy she had said to be simply dating, and just hadn't revealed it on Facebook yet.  Other friends of mine, including ones I practically grew up with, have been wed for quite a while now...yet, I haven't even been on a first date.  You know the stories of how I've tried to start a relationship and failed; that may have been divine protection, but, whatever the reason is, my lack of a wife still makes me feel like a kid...and as an outsider when hanging out with other adults, especially my coevals.

Third off: Adults have kids or are planning on having them; kids don't because they're still kids themselves.  Like with the other rules, there were a few exceptions, but, whether young or old, you could pretty much bet that the adults I knew had at least one child of some sort...or wanted to.  My aforementioned eighth grade homeroom teacher who got married during Christmas break announced before the year was up that she was expecting, though, she must have been due well after the year was over, because, even on the last day, she wasn't showing yet.  Even if my older friends didn't have biological children, they had stepchildren, adopted children, or some younger person who thought of them as a parental figure.  In all honesty, I have never wanted kids; I don't see myself as a father, partly because, growing up, I had no earthly father to speak of.  I remember a conversation I had with someone where I said that I didn't want to get married because I didn't want kids, and she said, "You don't have to have kids if you're married; we're married, and we don't have kids." That argument would have worked...if it hadn't been for the fact that I'd often heard her and her spouse talk about being parents one day...which they are now, and have been for a while.

When I was in middle school, I remember a friend telling me that he knew a girl who had gotten pregnant when she was only twelve, and bragged about it, saying, "I'm more woman than all y'all." I told my mom what my friend said, and she was disturbed by that, saying, "That's just a baby having a baby." Regardless of your beliefs about sex, I'm sure we can all agree that someone shouldn't become a parent if they're not mature to take care of a kid...and, at the age of twenty-eight, I'm still not, because I'm largely a kid myself, and not just because I watch the Disney Channel. A now-former friend once told me, "Jerry, I truly believe you have the potential to hold down a job, live on your own, and have a happy, full life with friends and, God willing, a wife/family."  While I've "held down a job" for nearly half a decade now, and I do have friends, it just doesn't seem like a wife and a family are in my any point.

Now, for my two concluding points. First off: How can I know that these things aren't in my future? Simple: Logic! Years ago, I posted a Facebook note that upset some of my friends because it said that a relationship simply wasn't in my future, which I knew because I had correctly predicted other events before they happened, and they accused me of claiming to be omniscient.  I know what omniscient means--all-knowing--and just because I know a select few things will happen before they actually do doesn't mean I'm claiming anything of the sort.  Meteorologists tell you how the weather will be in the future...but can they tell you what your life will be like five years down the road? Of course not! Like someone who predicts the weather, I simply use the signs around me to come up with the likely outcome.  I may be wrong, but I wouldn't say something like that if I weren't relatively sure.

I've used logic like this before, and people were upset by it, but I knew I was right the whole time.  You may remember some years ago when I went to a place called Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center, which was for people with disabilities.  I'd heard good things about it, but that place did me no good; I left with nothing to show for it, and even the friends I made there have all since unfriended me.  That place didn't even do what they said they were going to do, and in more ways than one.  However, the biggest problem was something I always knew: I wasn't really disabled.  If I were, I wouldn't have been able to graduate with honors from my community college, or do most of the things I do on a regular basis.  If you look at the people I went there with, you'd see that they were worse off than I was, even if they had the same condition.  The problem was: Practically everyone I knew was begging and pleading with me to go, and I only went because I felt like I had no choice...even though I knew it was a mistake.  The same was true of Boy Scouting: I didn't want to join, but ended up doing it against my will...and found it to be terrible for reasons that I previously knew, and plenty more that I didn't.  Even when my mom brought home the infamous dog named Sparky in 2002, I knew it was a mistake, because he was a bigger dog, and we hadn't had a good track record with canines that size; some months prior, a friend gave us a purebred boxer to replace the dog we'd just lost, and we ended up giving it back; that big dog got out of our fenced-in backyard by merely jumping over, not to mention that it nearly knocked over my grandmother, who could have been seriously hurt, to try to get out of the house.  So, after that experience...why would we need another dog the same size? I told my mom to get rid of him, and that, by not doing so, she was "just prolonging the inevitable," but she disagreed...even after I was proven right when she ended up taking him back to the animal shelter, just like I said would happen from day one.  If she had listened, she could have avoided the heartbreak, or, at least, got it over with sooner...but nobody was willing to do that.

Second off: Many adults I know have made me want to stick to my childlike ways, even though they don't even know they've done it.  I recently saw a rather disturbing video online of a grown married woman who often acts like a baby or toddler, even though she is perfectly capable of adult conversation.  It isn't a sexual thing; it's just a fun thing that she and her husband like to do.  She is the kid; he is the father.  I don't regress in age that far back, but I can tell you that acting like a kid isn't just an act; it's who I am, whether you like it or not.  When I hear about the things adults have to deal with--divorces, becoming widows/widowers, disobedient children, accidental pregnancies both inside and outside of marriage, immature behavior that can't be stopped, etc.--I want no part of that; it makes me want to stick to being a kid.  When I sit around and watch Liv & Maddie or read Nancy Drew, it takes me from where I am to where I want to be: a world where people work together to easily resolve conflicts and solve problems, and one sans all the crudity and profanity that I've been bombarded with since I started middle school.  I may be tuning out the real world, but it seems like I need to; this planet has seriously gone past the point of no return.