Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reduced to Children by Grownups

While my thoughts on my last post were still swirling into irrelevance, I got a wonderful taste of what total crap that belief is thanks to everyone in my life over forty-five.

I have the lovely misfortune of still living at home due to my pathetic income and lack of ownership of my car, so I get to be here and watch all of the "grownups" that I know treat me like I am too young.

My realization here is that everyone immediately starts saying, "I was never that young, and even if I was, I was smarter/more responsible/more experienced/etc." Nevermind the fact that my parents and two of siblings were married in their early twenties. I'm clearly too young  to be treated as the adult I legally am by the people who know me well enough to know how I behave and how smart I am.

I first started realizing this at my parents' church. After I graduated high school, I floated around interacting with the collage-age and grown-up people there, and realized I was going to just be caught between the youth group, which I was now too old for and no longer allowed to attend, and the grown-up things, which I was not considered part of because I was too young. This isn't really a problem when kids go off to JBU (as most of their children there do), and only come back once in a while until they've graduated and gotten married, but with me and a handful of others, when you're there and they can't remember whether or not you're out of high school, no one will take you seriously.

I can accept that from strangers at a church I only go to because of my living arrangements. They're not expected to know what I'm like. It's irritating, but a necessary evil. It's when people that do know better do the same crap that it pisses me off.

We are not children set loose in an adult world to explore and do as we will. About half the time, we are adults being denied the world we have earned. We aren't trusted to make our own decisions, and when we assert our rightful independence, it's looked on with condescension and/or disapproval. We get advice and admonitions rather than encouragement, because god knows we're idiot children and don't know any better.

They will never take us seriously or respect us as our own, intelligent, autonomous individuals, because they'll never think of us as adults or their peers, regardless of how old we are. Thirty-four, three kids, a career, and you'll still be "just a kid."


  1. That's interesting, as I have had a dramatically different experience.
    Granted, this could be a result of having my own place, vehicle, etc, but age has really stopped being a factor in my life. After living "grown-up" life for so long, I've started to really notice how much adults DON'T know. They're figuring shit out as they go, just like I am. And they really seem to have no problem admitting that. I regularly chat with people in their forties, and have them ask me for advice about a situation that they're in. I hang out with people who have kids my age, and have long conversations about anything under the sun, and I'm never condescended to. They may disagree with my views at times, but never because of my age, simply because we have different belief systems. Aside from my family, who I suppose will always see me as a kid, every adult I've encountered (and adults really make up the bulk of my social circle)
    has made no differentiation between "how adult" they are compared to "how adult" I am.

    1. Lucky you, then. You also live several states away from your family. The people I meet that interact with me on my own level frequently treat me as an autonomous adult without any kind of condescending, but it's also impossible not make distinctions about "how adult" someone is. People our age do the same thing with kids that are between seventeen and twenty.

      I was also primarily referring to people over forty, mostly those that have known your parents/family, or been about for several years.

      People have a tendency to immediately forget how old they felt when they were younger, so that an eighteen year old looking at a thirteen year old, or a fifty year old looking at a twenty year old, can look at how young and stupid they obviously are while completely disconnecting the fact that they were the same age. A couple that wants to get married at twenty will often face opposition from their parents, even if those same parents were married by that age, because they're so very young.

      It's an issue of disassociating with one's past and the way it makes one think of other people. It creates a lack of empathy and respect in people who are significantly older and so distant from their early adulthood that they can see nothing but a "kid" even well into their thirties.