Recent Events That Made Me Realize I’m an Adult Now

Sorry about the delay in getting this post out… I’ve been rather busy lately. For those of you who have been waiting for more news stories (it has been a while, hasn’t it?), rest assured I’m getting started on one, and I hope to have it up next week, fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I’m going to tell you something that will shock you and blow your mind: I am an adult now! Well, okay, that isn’t really a revelation at all. I just turned 25, after all. But until recently, it hadn’t sunk in for me that I’m now an adult.

I guess as a child, I always saw my elders as “adults” and myself as a “kid”. Even though I knew, rationally, that I’d be a legal adult after I turned 18, I didn’t undergo a sudden mental shift on my 18th birthday, I was still just me. So I just kept right on thinking of myself as a “kid” all through college, and even for some time after I graduated. But even though I still don’t feel any different, there have been some recent events that have made me realize that yes, I am now an adult and no longer a kid.

I figured I’d share these events with you, in no particular chronological order, because frankly, many of these things made me feel a bit too chronological already.

Toys from my childhood are now in antique shops

Third grade. I was this guy for Halloween.

So, I went up to Cayucos one day to enjoy the sunshine, the beach, and the various antique shops that line the town’s main stretch. I have always liked antique shops, they are always filled with fascinating stuff from days gone by. But now, I think I might revise my previous love of those establishments.

As I went from room to room and admired the china, tools, typewriters, and collectible shot-glasses, I made an unpleasant discovery. I found an area filled with action figures and other toys. These weren’t just any action figures or toys, by the way. They were toys I remembered from my childhood. I used to own them. Indeed, my brother, who inherited most of my toys after I grew out of them, still had some of them. And they were for sale. In an antique store. My childhood memories were now a collectible memento of days gone by. Boy, that made me feel old.

But not as old as this next discovery…

There are people alive today who have never seen a floppy disk or video game cartridge

Remember these? I do. When I was growing up, if you wanted to back up files from your computer, you did so on floppy disks, like this one, that could store about a megabyte or so. Actually, they were originally far larger and were actually floppy, but by the time I was born we started to move to smaller, hard-cased “floppies” like this one. In my house, we kept cases of the things in our designated “computer room”, and we would by blank ones from RiteAid all the time. I still have a few on my desk right now as I’m typing this, storing old Word files and some MS-DOS games with terrible graphics. I can’t use them of course, my floppy disk adapter was meant for a computer far older than my current one.

I also remember, as a child, playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on the old NES, and having a grand old time at it, too. Unless the game froze, and you had to pull out the cartridge and blow the dust out of the bottom. Yeah, games used to be stored on physical plastic cartridges that you bought at a store and plugged into the top of a machine. None of this storing games or computer files on CDs, and indeed now even those are going the way of the dodo as everything migrates to digital downloading and “the cloud”. Kids these days have no idea what that picture on the “Save” button even means any more.

It’s an H? With a weird, creepy mouth and a bucktooth?

Now, didn’t that little rant sound just like an old grandpa telling the young ‘uns about “the good old days”? Yes, yes it did. And that makes me feel old.

But at least that’s one I kind of have to think about. However, there was a recent event that made me realize that I’m now an adult that came flying right out of nowhere.

Shopping at Target

Yes, shopping at Target is one of the events that made me realize my age. And boy, it was unexpected.

See, here on the Central Coast we didn’t have a Target until just last year, when a new one opened in San Luis Obispo. After it opened, I went down one day with my dad to check it out. As we wandered the aisles, I remarked about how I liked the decor. Then I noticed something about the pictures on the walls. You know how stores always have big posters of pretty-looking people sporting the products they sell? Well, I realized there was a recurring pattern in all of them. All of the models were about my age, or maybe just a little older.

In an advertising class in college, I learned that pictures in advertisements are never an accident. These images proved I am in Target’s target demographic. They are trying to appeal to people my age.

That realization wasn’t what made me feel old, though: what made me feel old was that many of the people in the ads were shown with small children, implying that they were the parents of said children. Then, I reflected on the fact that some people I know from high school, college, and my job who are about my age or a little younger are already married with children. I then realized, I am old enough to be a parent myself! I am an adult!

But that can’t be right. I only graduated high school six years ago. I’m still young and hip! Aren’t I?

I have no idea what the “cool kids” are into

Right, guys? Guys?

Yeah, um, no. No I am not young and hip. In fact, I am old enough now that if I tried to hang out with high school students, it would look creepy and someone would probably call the cops.

Remember when I did a news story about my old high school? That was the eeriest feeling. The memories of the place felt fresh, I remembered all the buildings and even where my old locker was. Yet at the same time, I felt really out of place. In my brain, high school was “that place I used to go”. I knew I didn’t belong here anymore.

While I was there, I saw some of the students wandering around, doing their thing. And even though only six years separated us, I realized I had no idea what music they listened to, what clothes were “in” and “out” of fashion with them, what slang terms they used, what they watched on TV, or even where they hung out after class. I could remember what me and my peers were into during our high school years, but this new batch of students might as well have come from another planet for all I knew about their lives. I have become… *gasp* … a grown-up.

And being a grown-up means I now have grown-up concerns that these kids are several years away from even considering, like…

I am now old enough to worry about life insurance (apparently)

So, I was watching the Super Bowl, and this commercial aired:

Now, I know Snoopy and friends have been MetLife’s mascots for years. But this ad takes things to a whole new level. I’m seeing Casper, Scooby Doo, JabberJaw, Richie Rich, Voltron… many of the cartoons I grew up with on Saturday mornings. With just the visuals, it looks like it’s just a big old cartoon get-together, but you add in what the announcer is saying, and you realize that all of these cartoon characters are here because they are “retired”, or some such, and getting ready to “plan for what’s next”. They are there to meet with a MetLife agent.

The implied message? “Hey, twenty-something who is just starting out in life. It’s time for you to start thinking about long-term plans like life insurance, because this is stuff you’ve got to prepare for early before time slips you by and it gets harder. You don’t want leave your spouse and kids hanging if, heaven forbid, you have an accident or something, do you?”

“Should have listened to He-Man and called MetLife.”

But you know, I don’t want you to think I’m all depressed that I have discovered the implications of my age. Even though sometimes I feel old, in the net sum, I am actually happy and excited to be an adult now. Why? Because adulthood comes with freedoms that you never really get to experience as a “kid”. Freedoms like…

Going to see a movie with my friend on a whim

Remember my review of The Amazing Spider-Man? That blog post happened literally on a whim. I knew the movie was coming out, I knew a buddy of mine who was into Spider-Man, and I figured I’d call him up and asked if he wanted to go see it with me. He said “sure”. And like that, I was at his apartment, picking him up, and we drove to the theater with some money I withdrew from an ATM and bought tickets, popcorn, snacks, and drinks. Almost no planning, just that simple.

That, more than anything else, made me feel like an adult. To have the freedom to make my own choices and do what I want. Sure, that freedom comes with plenty of responsibilities. But it is still far more freedom than a “kid” knows, with his or her every action constrained by rules set by parents and schools. Now, I’m the authority figure kids look up to for approval.

To me, that freedom is what adulthood is all about. So I’ll accept that I’m no longer in touch with high schoolers, that I remember technologies kids today know nothing about, and that toys from my childhood are now considered antiques. I will let department stores and life insurance companies pander to me. To me, it’s all worth it.