I’m writing this post ahead (6 months) of the fact, but by the time you read this, I am now twenty years old. This is not something I’m happy about. When I turned eighteen, I had to face the nightmare of being a legal “adult,” but at least I could still call myself a “teenager.” Twenty doesn’t leave any ambiguity: I’m now an adult, period. This sucks.
I have, and always have had, a youth complex. I’m obsessed with the idea that I’m a “kid” and have the expectation of being treated like one. It’s easy to come up with reasons why this happened. For one, my birthday is August 8th—late summer, meaning that I turned five years old just before the school year began, whereas most people were born during the school year and therefore would have turned six during kindergarten. It was pretty rare for anyone in my class to be younger than I was. Moreover, I was always one of the shortest kids in class (you know, second from the left when you line up for class pictures), and had a baby face up until high school (which is why only then did people stop mistaking me for a girl).
But it’s not just school where I was always the youngest. I’ve been an avid internet user since I was eleven years old. Up until about two years ago, I was a member of a good many forums, and I usually hung out on forums that were mostly older, more sophisticated users (or alternatively, slightly-older less-sophisticated ones). Especially in my years on the Otakuboards forum, I was in the ages of thirteen to sixteen, while most of the site consisted of twenty-something college students. And the age gap was *always* obvious.
Even more than all that, I enjoyed being the youngest person in my class. I always thought of myself as a “child prodigy” and took pride in the fact not just that I was smart, but that I was exceptionally smart for my age. The thing I hated to be told more than anything was that “[something]’ll change when you get older.” I stubbornly refused the idea that I’d ever like girls until my teen years, and then still refused to talk about it to my parents. (Even now, I feel totally awkward when it comes to talking about girls I know. I don’t think anyone knew the name of my senior crush, nor does anyone know I had one.) I refused to think that a day would come when I stopped liking toys, video games, and cartoons (lo and behold, I’ve lived up to that so far!)
I still act like a kid a lot. Mostly towards my mom and brothers. My recently-turned-eighteen brother acts his age and has all sorts of responsibilities, friends, activities he goes out and does, and he drives (a black Mustang). I know how to be his big brother, but I act like his younger one a lot of the time. I spend a *lot* of time with my thirteen year-old brother, and both of us acts like little kids when we hang out, even though he acts more mature around his friends. These days, he’s getting taller and taller, and should be my height within
a year or so two months or so. He’s got peach fuzz growing, too. He looks just like I did at his age, so I know that before long, he’ll suddenly look a lot older, and neither of us will feel right acting like little kids around each-other anymore.
Quite honestly, I don’t and never have wanted to be an adult. I never understood kids who wanted to be older than they were, because most old people are boring and depressing. Some people crave independence, or have life goals that involve being an adult. I don’t.
I have no real desire to live on my own. I have no real desire to try living with someone else, both because I am insufferably hard to get along with on a day-to-day basis, and because I find everyone else insufferably hard to get along with on a day-to-day basis when I have to deal with them from a position of equality. I don’t really want a job, and while I think it would be nice to have money, I don’t care about it that much. All I really want out of life is what I have. I mean, I’m happy as shit right now—why would I want to fuck with that?
All of this has to do with why Tsukuyomi Komoe from To Aru Majutsu no Index is my favorite anime character, and why I adore Sakurano Kurimu from Seitokai no Ichizon. They’re both adults who don’t just look like kids, but act and are treated like kids. The two of them resent this when it’s put in their face, but Kurimu especially lives in blissful ignorance of what it even means to be an adult.
There was a moment in Seitokai no Ichizon that struck a chord with me. It was during one of the segments wherein Kurimu talks about her everyday life, explaining completely childish activities under the misconception that normal adults do those things. In this case, she was detailing how the day prior, she’d been playing in the big sandbox at a nearby park, spending all day just digging a big-ass hole. It was an adorable moment, but the first thing that crossed my mind was “man, I wish I could go to a sandbox and dig a big ass hole.”
This isn’t so unusual. I know that many grown men have that trigger in them to go dig a big ass sand hole. I know it for a fact, because I’ve been to the beach with big groups of little kids many times. Invariably, if there are enough boys in the group, and especially if one of them doesn’t care for swimming, then someone will start digging a big-ass hole. And then, once it gets pretty big, everyone in their party, along with several kids and their parents from other nearby parties, get involved in the digging of this big-ass hole. Grown men get involved, and the hole starts getting seriously deep. Next, projects start up out of nowhere like a hivemind. Suddenly, there are two big-ass holes a few feet apart, and the idea is to create a tunnel between them large enough for the little kids to crawl through. (I swear this has happened at least six times that I’ve been to the beach.) People start throwing back and forth advice on which parts need to be dug like it was just a matter of course that this tunnel needed to happen. Eventually, the kids don’t even give a fuck anymore, and a grown man and two teenaged boys are digging a fucking hole.
There’s kid in everyone. The difference between that and Kurimu is that she’s all kid. She doesn’t have to make excuses for herself. You won’t see a grown man just start digging a big-ass hole at the beach from start to finish by himself—the pretense of his kids being into it is what gets the project started. The kids will be talking about that big-ass hole they dug all night, but the adults can’t exactly go to all their friends and be like “BRO, I JUST DUG THIS BIG-ASS HOLE, SHIT WAS SO CASH.”
But I’m being completely inauthentic here. Maybe outright lying. This is all idealist nonsense that isn’t based on fact.
The truth is, I haven’t been to the beach in years. My family goes sometimes, but I skip out because I completely hate the beach. I purposefully skip out on opportunities to go have fun digging a big-ass hole, because being an adult, I think “do I want to be sunburned and get my hair all fucked up to dig a big-ass hole, or do I want to stay home and watch Cardcaptor Sakura for three hours and bitch about how my childhood was never this fun?” In all honesty, I can’t stop thinking like an adult enough to get excited about those stupid things, even though I feel like they’re things I wish I could do. It’s all backwards!
Moreover, there’s nothing saying I have to be like every other adult, and I’ve got a ton of support. My friends are like me—they don’t see themselves as grown-ups. My friends and I are the types who will drive to a forest and just explore the forest for a few hours, jizzing over how awesome the scenery is. In reality, not only would I tell my friends about the big hole I dug, they’d probably have been there digging it with me. The real reason that we don’t go and dig the hole without pretense is that in all honesty, we don’t care to dig a big hole. It’s the momentum of the moment that gets us interested. If we have the choice, we can think of better things to do.
Now I’ve re-rationalized the whole idea. Suddenly, the romantic idea that I can’t be a kid because I’m a grown up has been fraudulated. In other words, it’s all been an excuse from the beginning. The truth is that I use my powers as an adult to their fullest, and would never go back to being a kid even if given the option. Anything I say about “pressures of society” is bullshit from the moment it comes out, because if I cared about those things, I’d have a car and a job right about now (both of which I could have with little effort if I tried).
I said it already, right? I’m happy right now, so why would I want to change things? I don’t have to! Being twenty doesn’t make any difference! Society will give me more shit about my decisions, but they’ve been giving me shit all along, and it hasn’t changed anything. I wrote the intro to this post as if the fact that I was turning twenty meant I couldn’t keep going the way I am, but the truth all along is that the number means absolutely nothing. If anything, my childhood self will congratulate me on having stuck to my principles for two straight decades.
And hell, at this point, I don’t even really not want to grow up anymore. I think I might get a job soon.
So what is the real truth? Do I really wish that I looked like Sakurano Kurimu? I brought it up with the pretense that I wished I looked like her so that I could get away with acting childish, but now I’ve proven that A. I don’t really care to do the things she gets to do, and B. I wouldn’t stop even if I did. What’s the honest-to-god truth?
The truth is that I wish I looked like Sakurano Kurimu because I’d rather be an adorable pink-haired girl then a large, somewhat creepy-looking man. Plus have a flaming lesbian constantly clinging to me. That is all.
How do you have money to buy things? Do you still get an allowance?
Are your parents never going to kick you out? :P
Also happy birthday.
My dad recently gave my brother and I credit cards connected to his account, so we’ve been using that. Before that, I never had any money on me. I just asked for something when we went out, like “hey, we’re going to the mall, wanna come?” “sure, can I get a manga at Barnes and Noble?” I don’t buy much because there’s not much I want really, especially since I stopped collecting DVDs. Mostly I wait until I get a shitload of money for some special event (Otakon being right before my birthday is how I get and spend the most money), and then I buy a bunch of figures.
My dad is of course trying to make me more self-sufficient, but once he was drunk and assured me that “we’ll let you live with us till you’re 65 if we have to” so let’s call it a fallback option XD
Oh, I see.
That is lucky, w
I want to be Son Gohan, all of 6 years old and the strength of a T-Rex. I can delve pretty big holes all by myself. I want to be an a room full of all the Lego bricks in the world and make Gundams for a month, then emerge from it as a fully formed adult and show my shit off on the internet.
I want to be a little girl just like my little girl so we can play and wrestle and dance together, then after a few hours I’ll turn back into her father so I can lift her up and adore her until my heart explodes.
I want to meet my wife again when we were both teenagers. Then a few days later be ourselves again so we can laugh: she at my long hair, me at her braces.
The wish to be a kid again never, ever goes away. So does the wish to never grow older than how you are at any time. But I realize I seldom wish to stay a particular age: like, I’d wish I was 18 again, but only for a few days, or maybe be 23 while backpacking through the world over a year… but nothing like to be a certain younger age again period.
To disappear from one’s milieu is to abandon one’s relationships in a way. Their relationship is with me, me the adult, the 34 year old husband, and father. I can’t be 18 and leave my wife at 36. That wouldn’t be fair. I wouldn’t like myself that much if I did. It would be a supremely selfish choice. And this, has less to do with being mature or adult, but just being loving.
The adventures I want to have are adventures with them. Sure I have 25 year-old friends who I probably can’t keep up with partying, or I won’t be able to join traveling. I accept this. I had my adventures at that age. The adventures I need to have, are those with the people I’m with and who I love.
Right now, you’re surrounded by people your age, and it’s easy to feel the things you’re feeling. The game here is to just live, go out and do things. You’ve done a bit of that, now do more, while you can, so that whatever you’re doing at whatever age will be things that feel right, because the things you haven’t done yet will be there for you to do, and the things that you miss, are already things you’ve done.
Happy Birthday bro. When I turned 20 it was both the best and worst day of my life. I would never ever want to go through that day and night ever again. But I would never change anything.
Put this in your ghosts of discussions because it’s lovely. Like the more mature and cool version of my post lol. I’m glad my meaning shone through in such a way as to inspire something like this!
I’d like to be a skateboarding dude in my next reincarnation. I really would. With a surfer’s attitude but without surfing because saltwater annoys me. We’ll see.
I don’t know what it’s like to be so old that you’re already thinking about your next life
When I turned 20, I got dropped into the adult world like a wet fart. I slammed face-first into a string of failures, slamming my self-esteem back into the Stone Age. It wasn’t all bad though, since I started my anime blog at that age.
I can definitely sympathize with your happiness and contentment with the world. I still live with my parents (most Filipino youths don’t leave the nest until they start their own families), and still can’t ever imagine leaving this house, leaving my family, or getting a car. Maybe I’ve started a career 1 year later than my batchmates in uni, but I consider myself at the border between childhood and adulthood.
But maybe I’m crossing the line? The anime I consume has vastly changed even in the span of three years. I used to crave for stories of growth, but more and more I look to stories of maturity. It’s as if I’m subconsciously telling myself that I’m losing my childlike qualities, and that I need to find a good role model quick! A little late for that, perhaps?
I don’t have much of a desire to relive my younger years, though. Being a hoarder of information, I want to keep looking forward–how much can I learn more about anime in the next few years? If anything, I’d like to meet my future self to see what I’ve become. Time paradox!
I know what you mean, re: anime. Back when I was less contented, it was stuff like Gurren Lagann, Eureka 7, and ef that grabbed me. Now, I’m more about… fuck I don’t even know, I’m just some weird otaku perv.
I barely remember what I felt upon turning 20, mostly because it wasn’t really a huge change in my life. I’d already been in college for a year (I was the opposite of you — I started school a year late and was always older than my peers), and every other circumstance in my life was the same. My 25th birthday was the big one for me, mostly because it was the most “adult” year of my life — I got an actual job (benefits, stress-inducing bosses and all!) and bought a (used lol) car so that I could go where I wanted when I wanted (and be a chauffeur to my siblings ffffffffffff). I still live with my parents, but I actually help out with bills and stuff because times are tough and whatnot.
Becoming an adult never really meant “get a job and a car and get married and have kids” to me. (I’m sure as shit nowhere near the latter two lol.) The only thing I really wanted out of adulthood was the confidence to be myself no matter what the situation. For various reasons, I’ve always been a reserved kind of person, though less so with age. I don’t want to be the “look at me, life of the party” kind of guy, but I don’t want to hide myself either. I think I’m 85-90 percent there. Thanks, adulthood!
I know what you mean about measuring adulthood. For me, I think what’s important is feeling like I can actually follow through on things. The main reason I’m always scared to go into something like a job is that I know how terrible I am at following through on something, even if it’s something I care about. Even now, I was planning to get a job this month, but the fact that I’ve been failing at so much the past week or so is quite discouraging.
I was out of my house at age 18 so I pretty much was already an adult before 20 XD I agree with Shinmaru that 25 is the year that that “adult” feeling really sets in and at that point you really do start feeling pretty old. (at least I do)
I suppose you could totally say I’m still a kid but I did grow up and then revert back into childhood due to my medical issues. spending all day watching anime and doing whatever in the house sounds like fun but it totally gets boring after a while especially when you kinda know what you are missing in the adult world.
the day i’ll feel all grown up again is when i learn how to drive XD
I’ve heard the 25 thing from a lot of people. But as long as I’m friends with ghostlightning, I’ll never feel old!
tl;dr…sixth months ago
P.S. My own struggles have been fairly similar with yours but now I’m on my own path because i feel like I’m wasting my potential. I was a smarter than most little kids and still am a (book)smarter than most semi-adultlike people (I have my own criteria for adult and even though I’m 24, I’m at best 2/5). So I’m gonna try and go out and make somethin of myself and get recognition for my talents and maybe somewhere along the way I’ll be like…”Holy shit I’m an adult.”
Good luck man. We’re all going to make it before too long!!
Well, at least you have the perks of legal gambling at age twenty-and-one to look forward to. Then after that it’s a looong road to the sixty-five senior’s discount…
I didn’t feel much different when I turned twenty either. Even when I was a kid, I too never understood why my peers were in such a rush to grow up. It started in middle school actually, when I was getting way into Pokemon and still loved cartoons, video games, etc., while all the other girls thought that was childish and were only interested in boys and beautifying themselves. And here I am now, years later, and I STILL love Pokemon, animation, and games, and have never been on a date or put make-up on. I graduated college and got a part-time job, but my heart still beats for anime and a few other things considered un-adult to my peers. I won’t say I always want to act like a kid or be treated like one, but when it comes to hobbies, I’ll always have anime!
Incidentally, you’re lucky that your parents let you have this lifestyle instead of pressuring you to get a job or excel in college, or even threaten to kick you out of the house if you’re not earning your share. My mom is similar in that she wants me to live as I want with the least amount of stress possible (I’m still living with her now). I hear you about wanting these youthful days of freedom to continue forever. There’s always that slight chance that some of us could get lucky and live as we want forever with minimal stress (like if your parents leave you a ton of money when they die), but alas it’s unfortunately very unlikely for most of us.
I got into Pokemon when I was 7, and it was the most important thing to me for 4 years. I got picked on a lot for that, but it didn’t change the way I felt!
You need to get laid.
so you’ve said.
Amazing, you guys have a lot to say about your 20th birthdays. I for one didin’t experience any emotion during birthdays since I was 17.
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My experiences and disposition are similar to yours: my birthday was during the school year, but one year younger, ’bout halfway through. I was always the wacky kid who took statements too literally, moved too awkwardly, fixated too heavily on all the wrong things at the wrong times, and made mental connections too spontaneously. I’ve always been the one accused of being “not quite there,” “clueless” and “scatterbrained.” And everyone patronized. I often knew what was going on, though; I just wasn’t interested, or maybe I just couldn’t read any of it well enough to care.
Externally, what changed around 20 was sort of environmental: I kinda had an existential crisis earlier that year in college, went hiki and really OC, “messed up” academically, then embraced 2-D fandom, which was already pulling me in anyway. From that point, my mother sort of gave up on the iron fist thing. She scolds, sure, but I kind of like “being a lost cause.” I get off easier.
I’ve always had the exasperating feeling you mention, the feeling that people look at me like a relative “kid.” Maybe like you, I was enough of a free spirit to buck the demands and run like the wind once college started. Which might have been cowardly- part of me occasionally thinks I should’ve just been sincere and gone for that at a younger age.
My issue now is that I don’t know HOW to be a kid. Maybe that’s what the complex is. I mean, I do sorta know to a degree. I do know I’d rather sit at home and go through my list of anime (or Curious George eps) than sit at a bar or club and “socialize,” talk…about…stuff…with loud music I don’t even like. Even in geekdom: I’ve never been good with memes, which is sort of a social concept, and I always trip up when it comes to trivia’s “big picture” stuff. I like the idea of going to a con, and often find myself thumbing my nose at others. But when it comes right down to it, I get intimidated, feel alone, get mean, and shove people away.
In my bedroom I had a bulletin board covered with doctor’s appointment stickers (yes, I still see a pediatrician- they’ll kick me out soon enough). My mother made me throw it out. But take your sandbox example. I, like you, rarely ever FEEL like doing that. So if I shout something like “Let’s dig a hole!” it feels hollow somehow, profane, pedestrian. Like I’m trying to do that, because that’s what society says acting like a kid means.
That’s why I really like your post. Unfortunately, I can’t say I was always brave enough to just live how I wanted. I can do that, when I’m alone and have nobody to answer to. Which was, again, part of the hiki thing- I still struggle against that. When there’s another person, one who I perceive as “normal” and not “deviant” like I am, I desperately scramble to justify my actions.
But it’s like I don’t really love myself completely, if I do something dishonest like that, engage silly norms of adulthood on their own terms. Maybe now I can stop anathematizing my gut desires. So thanks for the honesty, Digiboy- seriously.
I think this came out as a “reply,” which I didn’t mean.
It sounds like you know what you want to do and are just on the path to doing it. Which is how I see myself, except I’ve got ridiculous freedom opening all the doors on whatever path I choose ahead of time. Good luck with the honesty – I think it’s really, really important.
Happy birthday, cupcake.
No soliloquizing from me today. :) One way or another, you’ll be where you’re meant to be.
Ever thought about cutting your hair, though?
It came up when I was going in for an interview to work for a dealership run by a friend of my dad. I have no desire to cut my hair, so we worked out which dealerships I could work for if I kept it. Being as I’m the type who wants what I want without compromise, I’m always going to find a way to move forward without cutting it.
I remember when I turned 20….I smoked a whole shitload of meth and shit my pants. It was a lot of fun probably I don’t really remember.
I might have made that story up even.
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