Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Adults Only 

Nowadays, everyone knows the Emperor has no clothes, and no one cares.

It felt a little wrong, if not illegal, to drop an envelope containing "bio-samples" in the post. It almost seemed like I was mailing a vengeful letter to a perceived enemy. "Imagine their surprise when they open this envelope and find fecal samples!" ā€“ as if I was a sort of lazy thirteen-year-old Count of Monte Cristo plotting my enemy's comeuppance. I'd once heard of a fellow who had for years collected his fingernail clippings and a bag of his own hair with the sole purpose of putting the collection into a paper bag and setting it on fire on the doorstep of his ex-wife. Apparently, he had heard that burning nail clippings and hair smelled horrible, and he was planning this juvenile revenge until the day he died.

Yet, I was not mailing a letter bomb to a spurned lover or adversary but rather passing another cairn of life on the road to adulthood. Doing your taxes, buying life insurance, having a retirement savings plan, paying a mortgage, creating a will and now completing a colorectal cancer screening test are all markers of my increasingly undeniable advancing age. The test itself is easier to do than you think but just as icky as you might imagine. Still, the symbolism of it is hard to miss. Strangely, other signs of advanced adulthood such as balding, (in truth my hair has never looked better by its very absence), or a greying beard (more distinguished looking and safer than smoking a pipe), haven't really affected me.

I'm sure a psychologist would have something to say about a middle-aged man still considering his late onset maturation. Legally, I've been an adult longer than some of my work colleagues have been alive but there is always a lingering voice in the back of my head that remains a child. It's the voice that encourages indulgences or puts off chores or errands. As Ratty from Wind in the Willows might say, "there is nothing ā€“ absolutely nothing ā€“ half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." He could've just stopped at "messing about" but I'll allow the bit about boats, and perhaps swap it with "bicycles". That is to say, Iā€™d still rather avoid adult things like laundry, grocery shopping or tidying up by spending my time simply messing about.

Of course, one side effect to living in adulthood denial is the fear of being found out. When asked to sit in on interviews, choosing a candidate for a new position, weighing in budgets or considering requests for one proposal or another, I immediately wonder, "Are you sure you want my help with that? Sounds more like a job for someone with qualifications or some such thing?" Then you realize you actually have the qualifications whether you wanted them or not. This is well known in our current parlance as Imposter Syndrome. I've found the key to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is to just stay in character. That is to say, pretend you know what you're doing with the confidence of someone who actually knows what they're doing.

Then again, if there's anything we've learned from the last few years, you can become president without a clue of what's involved provided you have the bluster to convince at least some of the people, some of the time, that you do. Elon Musk has shown you can be very knowledgable about any given topic and still be a childish imp. Strangely, in these troubling times, even when an imposter is exposed, not much really happens. There are no consequences to stupidity or immaturity. What do we call that syndrome? The Emperor's New Clothes? Pluralistic Ignorance? Given the number of idiots who have, of late, run entire governments into the dust, I suppose I needn't worry about my own adult bona fides. It seems being an adult isn't as necessary as it used to be, though it still comes with taxes, a burdensome amount of documentation, unreasonable expectations and unpleasant tests involving your poop.


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