Day 186: Nothing is the New Anything

People don’t really change. That’s what I’m trying to be clever about here. You realize that as you get older. There’s a time in your life when you’re old enough to have vivid memories of your parents at your age. I remember what my Dad was like when he was 39, and now that I’m that age, I understand him way better. When you’re young you think adults have everything together. When an adult, you realize that “grown-ups” are really still children who have accumulated more baggage but learned how to hide it and talk to people without crying, throwing a fit, or needing to make them a mix tape. Nobody grows up, we just have more responsibilities which force us to stop acting like babies/toddler/morons.

I’m speaking in broad strokes here and realize that I’m missing a lot of nuance. Sure there are people who change completely as they become adults, but that’s usually the result of some life changing event (prison, near death experience, etc) not just the ho hum process of getting older. Remember your 5th grade teacher? They were probably younger than you are now. It makes sense why they spent all their free time smoking in the lounge, doesn’t it? They were in there wondering what the hell they’re doing with their lives just like you are now while reading this blog (and I am while writing it.) I know many of you might be thinking “What about having kids, don’t they change you?” Yes, tremendously. They force you to ACT like an adult, but you still go scream in your pillow and rip up your baseball cards when they’re being difficult. I’m sure that’s something when you were 13, you never dreamed your parents did. Well, they did. We don’t grow up, we just learn how to act like we did a little bit.

At my core, I’m still almost exactly the same person I was at 13. Sure, I have more experiences, and maybe I’m a little more “wise,” but I still spend far too much time wondering what people think about me and seeking out their approval. It’s why people in their late 30’s go on yoga and meditation retreats; they thought they would be way cooler than they are by now. They’re convinced that all they need to do is go somewhere for a week and shake off all their insecurities about their choices and their body and learn how to be truly content living by their own standards. Best of luck to them.

There’s a certain freedom and disappointment involved in coming to this realization. You know that other adults are just as insane as you are, so you’re willing to let them off the hook for being weird. At the same time, when you were a kid, didn’t you think everyone would be way cooler than this?

I don’t mean for this to be a giant bummer. It has definitely helped me to stop being disappointed in people. When you realize that they do things for the same gross selfish reasons you do, you have some empathy for them and understand that they’re just a huge toddler who doesn’t want to share his truck with you.

What should you take away from this message? Well, for starters, don’t sit around thinking about this stuff like I do. Secondly, stop trying to be happy and just do stuff you like to do as much as you can.

Should I be a life coach? No? Ok, good.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

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