As I sit at my desk at the office it strikes me that I’m not so much being an adult as I am pretending to adult. Sure, I’m meeting my quotas, building beautiful slides in many, many briefing decks, putting a roof over my head, paying the bills, and keeping a number of small creatures alive. It doesn’t feel like that’s all that high of a bar to pass over. Particularly when I’m so often doing some or all of those things on autopilot.
That leaves me wondering how to define the core mission of being a adult. What characteristics define success? If the baseline is pay taxes and stay out of prison it’s straight forward enough. Alternately if the minimum level of entry is being able to provide for and sustain another human life into adulthood, I’m not even racing on the same track. In fact I’ve spent two decades driving at great and reckless speed away from that track. What then are the defining characteristics of adulthood? Is it merely a function of age? Is it behavior? Is it something intangible?
Since my real goal is to mostly maximize the amount of time I get to be home with my nose stuck in a book, or playing with the internet, or otherwise hiding from human interaction the point is largely an academic one. Even so, there are lots of people out there raising reasonably well adjusted children or doing important medical research or keeping a nuclear reactor running smoothly. Maybe any or all of them feel adultier than I do. Just now I’m not feeling any of it.
That’s not saying that I won’t do a fine job keeping up appearances. I’ll go through the motions and get most of them right, but just now I’m having a tough time shaking the feeling that the only major difference between the 1998 model Jeff and the 2016 variant is now I get less sleep, take a few more pills, and don’t need to show ID when I go to the liquor store. Maybe I should just change the definition of successful adulting and declare unilateral victory.