18

You’ve finally crossed that blurry line into official adulthood, which you will soon discover is a bit thin and arbitrary. While this milestone age will grant you certain statutory privileges, others will be withheld from you a bit longer for no real logical reason, while a whole new set of expectations will be laid upon you, some of which are certainly reasonable, others of which are rather insensible and unrealistic. The true qualities of adulthood will begin to blossom later down the road, however. Ten years from now, you will look back and see your relative naivete, foolishness, and lack of perspective compared to the point you will have arrived at (hopefully). Remember that the brain continues developing well into one’s early twenties. At this moment, you’re a novice, so do realize that you will founder and fall and fumble, but as life is an ongoing experiment, a constant work in progress, the important thing is that you maintain a forgiving mind toward yourself and continue creating. Don’t become preoccupied with “the right way,” as you will learn that as you go, and it will be unique to your own experience, not a stodgy and static, one-size-fits-all template. Continue to experience life on your own terms and maintain a healthy skepticism toward any external authority that claims to know what’s best for you. This, too, you will discover, and live in accordance to, as you go, if you’re at all honest with yourself. To be fair, while it is reasonable to consider the advice of those you respect, admire, and/or love, remember that those same people may merely be living the same mistake they learned from others, going from A to B, never considering peripheral roads, or if A and B are even worth a damn.

Remember Dr. Seuss’s words, whose whimsical wisdom remains applicable beyond childhood (especially beyond childhood): “My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It’s the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond ‘Z’ and start poking around!” The reality is that all people are full of shit some of the time, and some people are full of shit most (if not all) of the time. I say this not to encourage a cynical view of humans but in effort to keep you sharp. The human mind is quite clever, to be sure, so clever that we’ve become quite capable of deceiving ourselves, of believing in our relative infallibility, and therefore misleading others into the same dark hole of dishonesty and misunderstanding. Hopefully, you will learn to realize when you’ve been offered a true token of wisdom and not just a dust ball masquerading as a diamond. It should be said that real wisdom will not proselytize or self-aggrandize or subjugate you to its revealing authority; it will not condescend and handle you with kid gloves; it won’t expect everything in return for delivering very little or nothing to you. Real wisdom will prepare your mind to reveal its own insights. It will respect your individuality. It will meet you as an equal yet challenge what you think you know. It will allow you the freedom of your mind and body without extracting a toll on, or annihilating, one or both. It will be more invested in knowing when it’s wrong than proving itself right, because it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so that gets you in trouble, as Mark Twain knew.

The aforementioned line is a line that will continue to follow you all throughout your life in some form or another, and it will exist as a stultifying, stagnating, and limiting borderline, all at once expecting yet denying, and the more aware of it you are, the less effecting it will be, as it inevitably puts you in the role of the dog within the invisible fence: the dog doesn’t see a thing but is nevertheless subjected to its effects. If you haven’t realized already, you will find that the older people get, the more preoccupied they become with borders, containment, and order-through-constriction (as opposed to spontaneous order through fluidity). This is why Dr. Seuss remains even more applicable in adulthood, as this is when his words benefit us the most, those moments where we’re more inclined to grow dull and rigid and certain in our biases. Once you begin to feel you’ve arrived, that you’re “complete,” that is when you grow lazy and fall off, so to speak. Wholeness comes with the awareness that there is always subsequent pieces to the puzzle, paradoxically.

One of the most commonly uttered statements of encouragement to young adults is “You can be/do anything you set your mind to.” I’m going to level with you and tell you that is just hollow Hallmark sentiment, naively optimistic and completely ignores reality–b.s., in other words. What I will say is this: the only way to discover what you can be is by doing, and it is only your own mind, your “mind-forg’d manacles,” that will prevent you from realizing your capabilities. Whether you discover your niche now or later, never stop searching, never stop experimenting, always remain open and continue tasting Life, as there will always be something that is new to you, and the reality of that can change the circumstances of your individual life at any given moment, and remember that “success can eliminate as many options as failure.”