I am an adult. This means that I deal with my feelings instead of hide from them. This means that I make jokes that aren’t cool but am alright with that.
This means that I take people seriously when they talk about their feelings. because that’s what I want from my friends.
This means that when I screw something up, I don’t just mentally acknowledge that I screwed it up, I say it to the person or people involved.
Being an adult doesn’t mean I’ve lost my fear of being honest about myself and my feelings. It does, though, mean that I admit this fear to the people being harmed by it.
It also means that I don’t just acknowledge my flaws in the painfully self-aware way that all my fellow writes have been doing. I admit to them. And, finally, I try to do something about them.
I know this reads like a high school journal entry. But I just get mad at people who are otherwise almost perfect, people whose primary flaw is that they are not just emotionally retarded (literal meaning of the word “retarded”) but who also think it’s OK for them to be this way.
My students’ willful ignorance makes me so troubled that some days I sit in the classroom after they’ve all left, staring at the back wall, forcing encouragement into my mind, trying to think of a way to interest them in something.
But people my age, people I love and care about and spend time with, they aren’t willfully ignorant. They are contagiously curious. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be all over my life. But there exist among you the willfully immature, the willfully childish. Really, what you are is selfish.
Having an idea does no one any good.
Feeling bad about something does not help anyone.
Admitting that you are “difficult to be around” doesn’t make you easier to be around. Four of my friends have said something like this. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that all of them are men.
Your feelings about me, our friendship, our time together, they do me no good. They benefit me in no way. They change my life in, at most, a marginal way. What you do is what matters.
You see something that needs to be done and you do it.
You see someone who needs something and you get it for them.
You have the time, you do it so someone else doesn’t have to.
You don’t keep score.
You don’t wait for someone else to.
You go beyond admitting your faults to actively trying to improve on them. Even if this means asking for help in doing so. Especially if it means asking for help in earnest.
I’ve been writing an essay for a while. An essay about being old. Of course this approach is humorous because I’m not actually that old. Writing an essay is a mysterious process. It requires that I admit that my life is tremendously interesting, or, at the very least, it requires that the way I see my life and the world in which I live it, is valuable outside of my immediate life.
What I wasn’t expecting, though, was to discover how much I like being old.
It means that the only reason I need to end a relationship of any kind is that the other person isn’t ready for a grown-up, real relationship. I’ve ended friendships for this reason in the very recent past and it was relatively painless. For me.
And, upon reflection, I have no remorse about abruptly ending value-less relationships, because I know that I shouldn’t be in a relationship that provides me with nothing. To a less-than-adult, these relationships are crutches: access points to other people, guarantees that we’ll have something to do, validations of our likability, something we see as easier to maintain than terminate.
We cannot let people hold us hostage, though. Not for any reason.
I have so many friends. I have so many true friends. But they are not a beacon of my value as a person. Their quality as people and as friends, even the number of them I have in my life, in indicative of both my quality of friendship and my capacity to truly value them.
I don’t expect someone to be my friend if I don’t value them.
So why would I be friends with someone who is so clearly selfish that they cannot go beyond admitting they aren’t a very good friend? Someone incapable of genuine apology? Someone who escapes at the sign of trouble?
If I think my friend is mad at me, I can’t stop trying to solve it. Why is it that so many people just ignore it, knowing that the person will have to let it drop?
I’m not afraid like I was when I was 18. Not afraid of being seen as dramatic, no longer allowing someone else to make me feel or act like a crazy person. My response is, I assure you, warranted. I am, again, hyper-logical, hyper-vigilant, hyper-self-aware.
And here is my secret source of mental power. I don’t care if you think I am over-reacting. I don’t care if you think you don’t deserve to be admonished.
I am too patient and too caring and too forgiving and too trusting and too kind and too generous and too fucking good to my friends. If I stop, it’s because I should have long ago. If I stop, it’s because I realize that I wouldn’t let someone treat my friend or sister the way you are treating me.
Here’s how to fix it:
Quit being a fuck.
Quit talking about quitting being a fuck.
Quit merely admitting that you are a fuck.
Quit being a fuck.