“Coming of age” is a myth

Posted on October 12, 2014

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Have you ever wondered if you have come of age already? You know, like in movies. The main character suddenly gets an epiphany or starts acting as though he or she has been through a lot in life and is now wiser than before. Usually, these characters are in their teens. Have you ever wondered if you have underwent such mind-blowing life change yet? What if you haven’t? What will happen to you then?

Is it always supposed to be positive? Is it possible to come of age out of being so damn jaded about your life? You started out as an optimistic youngster, and then you slowly get your eyes opened to the realities of life and start becoming cynical. Is this the same brand of maturity that coming-of-age films promise? Can I say that I’ve come of age if I’m slowly starting to lose hope?

These days, I hear the term “quarter-life crisis” a lot. It’s basically twentysomething existentialism – you just question your life a lot. You know, the usual twentysomething stuff like, “is my degree even worth it” or “is this relationship even going anywhere” or “are these really my true friends” or “am I disappointing my parents too much”. Everything pretty much boils down to “what am I even doing with my life”.

I guess many times in my life I’ve already fooled myself into thinking that I’ve underwent coming of age. Every bounce-back from every terrible decision I’ve made is like an opportunity for this miraculous realization. Turns out, I just keep stacking terrible decision after terrible decision until all I have is this tangled mess of a life slowly being ruined. I never learn.

I always keep thinking that I’m in the wrong course, or with the wrong people, or doing the wrong things in life. It’s tough to see the bigger picture when you feel the surge of deja vu that just says, “hold up, this is like that one time you made *insert bad life decision here*, please try not to be stupid and let this happen again”. It’s hard to believe that there’s an underlying plan and all of these are just detours when time and time again you keep ruining your life. Where’s the bigger picture? All I’m seeing is me once again fooling myself into thinking that I’ve made the right decision for once in my life. When am I ever going to get things right?

It’s a terrible thing to be jaded. It’s when you start to realize that everything you’ve been doing is wrong, that everything you’ve ever known is a lie. It’s realizing that you’ve failed at proving yourself. It’s becoming genuinely surprised when something right actually happens. In an ideal universe, you land the right course, get your life together, land a fulfilling job, and generally win at life. But this isn’t an ideal universe, is it? This universe is shit. It’s a cheating poker player who grabs all of your coins when he catches you off-guard. It’s a big joke.

In real life, I don’t think everyone undergoes coming of age. People learn continuously throughout life and fail at it if they really need to learn something. Life, as those cliche success-story fanatics say, is a constant learning experience. Who knows? Maybe you’ll finally come of age at 35 when you’ve “had it all together”. Or 98 as you take your last dying breath. Either way, you can just hope that you won’t stay in a state of dormancy as you realize that you are terrible at fulfilling your potential. You can just hope.

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