It’s Wednesday afternoon, I’m an adult and yesterday I almost found out where Sesame Street was. Turned on the radio to hear “…studios where Sesame Street was filmed.” So close, and yet so far.
When I was younger I used to think that there was a time when I would be ‘all grown up’ but on the current evidence this is not the case. I’m definitively more of a grown up than I have been in years gone by. Even with my questionable self awareness recent events have shown me that this is true.
I used to believe that one day there would be an epiphany, some moment of clarity when everything crystallised. That somehow I would transition from adolescence to adulthood in a single moment. As so often happens with childhood ideas, this was not quite the case. It turns out the foolish youth simply becomes a foolish adult. But with unfettered access to alcohol and a bank account. And hopefully more practice at getting oneself out of the consequences of bad decisions. Or at least the ability to make a good story of it afterwards.
If anyone reading does happen to have had such an epiphany, please let me know. (Not expecting much, but it can’t hurt to ask, right?)
I don’t think there exists some universal standard or milestone of adulthood. I think it can look like a lot of different things. I don’t even really know how I would begin to classify it, is it measured on an emotional level? Is it a lifestyle? What I do know is that it is exhibited in almost every decision that we make in a day. Inevitably not every decision will be the same, nor have the same consequences. Even similar decisions in different circumstances can warrant entirely different responses.
I’m currently struggling at work with a boss who, despite being a very senior manager within the company, is fundamentally pretty childish in his approach to things. There are times when I think his behaviour is more reminiscent of a 7 year old than a senior executive. On one occasion a colleague and I had been working pretty intensely for a number of weeks on a project that can best be described as ‘dull’. My boss, though he wasn’t at the time, came to visit where we were working and did not win himself any points. Instead of thanking us for a job well done or even discussing how things were going, he took it upon himself to laugh at us for the prospect of having to complete a similar project elsewhere once the current one was complete.
I used to think that people older than me would fundamentally be more adult, have a more mature approach to things. I saw adulthood and maturity as a goal that people progressed towards on a fairly linear path where progress was easy to measure. I now realise that it is nowhere near so simple, it is possible to be mature when it matters but get away with acting childishly at other times. God knows I can be incredibly childish at time. Whilst I might try to avoid responsibility like a bad habit, I also try to deal with those I cannot avoid with a degree of pride and self-respect. I don’t think I’ve got this perfected, but I know I’m better at it than I used to be.
A few months later and with more experience of dealing direct with my boss and I’ve come to a couple of realisations. It didn’t occur to me at the time how much I would struggle with working for someone older but measurably more immature than I am. It’s the first time that I’m confident that an issue at work isn’t simply due to me handling something badly. There is a difference between knowing that and knowing how to deal with it. The easiest parallel I can draw is dealing with a child. Unfortunately I don’t think my boss would react well if I started to treat him like one in our interactions.
As I’ve said, I don’t think I get this sort of thing right even close to the majority of the time, but I do see it as something that I’m constantly learning new lessons about. And I do try to learn those lessons, as I think it is rare that someone will go out of their way to teach them. Got to make the most of these opportunities when they do come along, even if it is only showing me ways in which I know I don’t want to act.
I think there is more to say on this, so it’s a subject that I’ll likely re-visit. Probably both directly and indirectly. Until then if any of this strikes a chord, let me know, I’d love to hear about it.