Jul 4, 2017


I’m going to talk about video games. Probably didn’t expect that from a post titled “Adulting,” did you? This generational term is defined by Oxford as, “The practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.” Doing your taxes or renewing your vehicle registration are classic examples, but it’s more likely you’ve heard it used in exasperation from 20-somethings, like “Adulting is so hard!” or “I just can’t adult today.”

Stardew Valley
I’ve had the opposite problem — every since I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up. I wanted an adult’s freedom of choice, independence, and the strength to stand up to other adults.

During the transition phase of teenagerhood, when you have growing freedom but little money, my time was dominated by Japanese manga, fantasy novels, horror movies, and RPG video games. But once in college, all these passions fell to the wayside — my ability to “adult” now meant the added responsibility of paying off my university tuition. My time went to working extra jobs to keep myself from drowning in the all-too-common student debt pool. I survived, but at the cost of time spent on things I actually love to do.

Then I moved to Japan! And traveled the world! Ultimate freedom, fueled by savings (worth it). And once I came back I followed the old pattern: work and save money. But for what? I was working long hours and taking 10/hr week commutes to "adult" –– pay my rent, cook enough food for myself, etc. In the late evenings, when my time was my own, I felt lost and tired. What was the purpose? I still hadn’t picked up the things I had enjoyed in years past, and now there was a sense of forbiddance to them: the things I did as a child/teen should stay there, lest I be perceived as “going backwards.” My generation has the nickname “boomerang” since many end up going back home because they can’t take care of themselves. I didn’t want to be perceived as a boomerang in any sense of the word. I had wanted to be an adult so long, how could I now turn around?

But I was miserable. Something was missing from my life and I knew it, and nothing was filling the space (certainly not food or mindless hours of Facebook).

Enter the greatest blessing of my life: my boyfriend. He is the man I most admire in all the world. And he plays video games; that didn’t make me think any less of him, I enjoyed how he still got excited and animated about the different series he was working his way through. It didn’t dominate his life, it was just a slice of it. He encouraged me to pick the hobby back up.

To my surprise, there was a lot of shame and guilt I faced inside myself, all wrapped up in how people may perceive me as an “adult” playing video games. Didn’t I have better things to do? Weren’t there major accomplishments in my life I wanted to work towards; wasn’t I wasting my time?

Then I considered these words from C.S. Lewis:

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

I began playing again. I completed Portal 2, started the very enjoyable Stardew Valley, and am even having a laugh over the kooky Octodad: the Dadliest Catch. It has made me happier… just to enjoy a little time without worrying about how it will be perceived, how it doesn’t make me money, how it is “childish.”

I want to reconnect with more of the things that delighted and inspired me as a child and teenager. Because you know who created those things? Adults.

~ ~ ~

P.S. Buck and I are off to Poland next week! There'll be more adventures to share soon. Have a great summer, everyone!

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