What Adulthood REALLY Means
Many people believe that emotional wounds are not as hurtful as physical wounds.
Objectively, however, both stem from deep-rooted pain that alter how we perceive the world into a less trusting one.
Fall off your bike, break your arm, or twist your wrist — you would immediately guess that a stranger would undeniably seek help for you. And you learn to not trust what actions caused those physical accidents. You become guarded and more wary next time.
Now, what if it was you out in the public who became belittled, insulted, or described with derogatory remarks from another person? You will find yourself quite hurt, and in need of support.
Unfortunately, emotional support can be a rarer experience compared to the former fall, especially when you are misunderstood. And at a public sphere, strangers do not call out negative behavior unless they personally know the victim who faced the negative experience.
Why? Is it just because emotional wounds are injuries that cannot be seen?
Visibility should not be the rationale for how hurtful something is. Though emotional pain is harder to detect, it does not make it any less meaningful.
When something hurts, expression is key to heal.
Everyone needs help, so speak up. And if you cannot see someone’s pain, listen to them.
Some may justify public insults through the reasoning that it is just their friends who said it, or describe the comments lightheartedly to downplay the negative impact of the actual spoken words.
However, jokes should never come at the expense of another person. Joke or not, unintended or intended, there are always better ways to light up the room other than micro-aggressions. And if it really was a joke, there is nothing wrong in clarifying if it was truly meant to be playful banter.
Big problems arise when they are not.
Why must we judgmentally criticize others for how they look, who they love, or what they wear?
You never know how much your words or actions can impact a person.
As someone who is still in college and soon to enter into adulthood, I must say a hard but brutal truth:
Growing up can feel like losing sight of our inherently beautiful worth as a result of the amalgamation of negative words, actions, and experiences that make us feel unlovable, broken, or undoubtedly wrong for this world.
We lose sight of generosity’s light. We minimize the magnitude of how peaceful acceptance and simple acts of kindness can change someone’s smile, and we maximize the destruction of bigotry. Toxic relationships compel us to think that communication which was once carefree, is now suffocating. Others start to take up too much space in our own hearts, to the point where we forget that we ourselves, are in control of who we allow into our own heart, our mind, our life.
Inner battles from teenage years carry onto our future if we do not suspect it —
By forgetting who we are, we become believers of superficiality and materialism instead of thoughtfulness and depth.
In the midst of transitioning into adults with the added pressure of societal expectations, selflessness unconsciously shape-shifts into selfishness.
When we mistake strong independence as superior and ignorant individualism, that kind of cowardice is mistaken as confidence.
Perhaps a part of growing up is also unlearning what “adults” should be.
Real independence and confidence is authenticity without being tainted by the universal obstacle of fear.
True confidence is seeking our validation inwardly instead of outwardly, which will naturally establish the solidity of our own selves to become mentally stronger and healthier.
It is learning how to combat the inevitable ignorance that comes with growing up: ignoring your own pain, ignoring others’ pain, and essentially becoming numb to all negative thoughts arising in your head. Ignorance is bliss, but it is short-term, artificial bliss.
This is your call to sit with the pain, for once. Do not become numb to your hurt, because one day that awareness can serve you. It may even be your doorway to long-term, genuine bliss, instead of a building block towards cold and resistant defensiveness.
Though it may not feel like it right now, lessons become lessons through the retrospection of painful experiences. There is value in every lesson, every experience, and every person we encounter… We just have to dig a little deeper to get there.
Often overlooked and underestimated is the immeasurable beauty in purity. Though they are still dependent beings, CHILDREN can sometimes be our best role models for purity.
Purity is not unachievable, untainted, ideal perfection. That is not what children model. Purity is simply remembering what makes us, us: the less you need, the more you have. It is free of possession. It is abundant in liberation.
If there is anything that adulthood has taught me so far, it is the priceless and rare asset of youthfulness. There is no defensiveness, bitterness, or resentment in youthfulness, for those are learned behaviors from the external world. It is the youth who are the most curious, open, innovative, and enthusiastic about every endeavor. Anything they pursue is an adventure to learn something new. Not only are they genuinely raw about their feelings, but they are also not attached to any outcomes. The latter is the solution to all wandering thoughts of worry. No fear exists. They are simply carefree, and unapologetically themselves.
Adulthood becomes exciting and hopeful when you remember who you were as a child, when you remember this bubbling energy of youthfulness. You remember who you were before the world told you who to be.
Let us remember who we are, by remembering what makes us human. Effective adulting is remembering what makes us excited, cultivating how to be gentle with ourselves, and equally balancing it all with strong self-accountability of our responsibilities.
So, how can we start adulting?
Here’s a start:
If someone unconsciously (or consciously) asserts stereotypes or reaffirms discriminatory behavior, I challenge you to speak up and become mindfully aware to resist in these harmful practices.
We cannot let micro-aggressions become pushed under the rug.
We cannot allow any pain become buried into our zone of numbness.
It is unacceptable for our OWN inner pain to become enablers for our wrongdoings towards family, friends, and the strangers we encounter.
If we truly care about the future generations, we are undoubtedly responsible for bettering the world to the best of our abilities, by nurturing increasingly harmonious and emotionally-attuned communities.
It ALL starts with US, with the little things we can control as members of our own groups.
Go outside, smile to someone, compliment a stranger, all the while educating and informing others on what is appropriate and what is not (if they are receptive to learning, that is). Your votes, your words, and your actions are your power.
Let us be models for the future generations by remembering our purity. Let us remember our curiosity, our imagination, our carefree liberation while maintaining the responsibility of accountability. This is adulthood.
With the cultivation of conscious communication, consumerism, and collaborative practices, we can make the world feel a little bit lighter, kinder, and better.
You, reading this, are the initiator to this beautiful process of healing from your source of pain. With or without the support of others, above ALL else, there is nothing as effective as being your own support.
How much you advocate for yourself is a reflection of your advocacy for others.
Inner pain is your teacher, if you listen to its messages.
However you view pain, the choice is yours. And choices are the catalyst to dreams.
P.S. (And remembering our dreams stems from purity, which is youthfulness, which is essential for adulting! You see, it is all connected. <3)