This is not going to be a popular blog post. I can tell already from the title. Growing up is not easy and not fun, and figuring it out can be awkward or uncomfortable.
But I’m very tired of people thinking it’s okay to live in a state of perpetual childhood. I’m nostalgic, I’ll admit it. But there is a line between nostalgia and obsession, and too many people seem to be okay with dancing the line lately, I feel compelled to speak out.
I talk with a lot of my students about films and books. I have a student who is love with Twilight and I have several who babble or drool or get into loud disagreements when we talk about their favorite TV show. These are young kids.
The sad thing is, I know plenty of adults who do the same thing. I know a lot of people who act astonishingly like they did before they began “to adult.” Now, am I saying it’s bad to watch TV, to love a movie franchise, or to play video games? Of course not; stories are important and I think it’s great to find one you really resonate with. I am saying it is a terrible thing to allow them to consume your life. This kind of thing allows you to live in a perpetual state of childhood/adolescence.
I’m saying this because I’ve read a lot of books where more and more of this cultural bleeding over is taking place, and it just seems to be a tad pathetic.
To the guys: If I am a princess in distress, I want the prince to save me because he loves me and because it’s the right thing to do. Not because Batman is his idol and he wants to be like Batman. If I am a wicked queen, I want to be challenged by true truth, not by some kid in a costume who’s testing the superhero waters. It doesn’t take Superman to know you need to figure out what’s right, and fight for it.
To the girls: True strength is found in your values, not by punching the bad guys. While we can stand and fight, it’s important to embrace comforting others, compassion, and empathy. Pop culture has largely overlooked that many women are great healers in favor of making them great fighters. No need to have them be mutually exclusive, nor have one side weaken the other. To quote a favorite book of mine, I Don’t Know How She Does It, it’s a waste of a good woman to try to turn her into a man.
3 Steps to Begin Growing Up
1. Recognize your value
You and your life are important. Treat it as such. Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others. Your life is not about you. It’s about something much bigger, and it’s for other people. If you’re married, someone relies on you. If you’re looking to find love, are you able to care for yourself and show that you value the things you care about?
2. Realize your responsibilities
You are responsible for your choices. If you don’t want “words to hurt you,” don’t let them. If you get angry at the thought of child labor in third world countries, don’t buy clothes from those countries, as the movie Zoolander shows (you might have missed it thanks to Ben Stiller’s face.)
3. Prioritize and plan your schedule
It’s how you use your time that shows the most about what you care about. Make sure you are getting work done, setting aside time for those you love and those who need you, and then you can indulge in your Marvel/Star Wars/DC/Novels/TV shows/etc. crossover theories.
Case in point, I want to be a writer. I want to be a well-known author. Therefore, I have to write stuff. But I need to make sure my kids are fed, my house is clean (clean enough, anyway), and I’ve finished up my work from teaching.
Heroes are great to have. It’s wonderful to find a template of the kind of person you want to be. But getting caught up in believing you want to be them rather than be like them for reasons a, b, and c can prevent you from growing up.