The path of life is full of changes and strange ups and downs; even in death, you become a badass skeleton that, incidentally, you should totally remember to set up with cool armor and medieval weaponry for the inevitable Army Of Darkness scenario somewhere down the line. However, before we get to the cool "being revived by the Book Of The Dead to fight Bruce Campbell" part, we're going to have to trudge through a lot of bullshit. Take the strange, frightening disease called "becoming an adult." We all carry a strand of that plague, and we all have to go through a very specific series of symptoms on our way to full adulthood that no doctor or teacher or tribal elder will warn us about in advance.
Luckily, they don't need to, because that's what wildly irresponsible comedy writers are for:
#5. The First Time Someone Refers To You As An Adult
The first time someone refers to you with adult nouns invariably happens at a grocery store. Some kid starts staring at you, or kicking your ankle, or doing some other bullshit thing bored children do to pass the time before the candy aisle. Before he actually starts pelting you with the contents of the shopping cart he's slowly but surely staining with poop, the brat's annoyed mother tells him off: "Chad, stop harassing that nice [man/woman]." Boom! Just like that, you're an adult in the eyes of random people.
If you're anything like me, this is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you're proud of your newfound status as "person some lady thinks is an adult," much like you cherish the first time you can buy beer without getting carded. Then again, once the whole "that guy's a man now" dam breaks, it'll flood all over and there's no coming back. Those new adult terms soon start hovering around you in an ever-tightening orbit until they slam on your face like a bola made of social expectations. Through no fault of your own, the "sirs" or "madams" you're getting in customer service situations soon start to seem a lot less ironic. The world has now decided that you're adult enough, dammit. And soon only condescending fuckers refer to you as a boy or girl, which is actually handy because it gives you an extra way to recognize and preemptively spin-kick those tools at the earliest opportunity.
What, did you think "kicking against the pricks" was just a figure of speech?
Sure, some people might still guess your age wrong. It doesn't matter. I'm a bearded mid-30s guy with bags under my eyes that rival Droopy's, and I still get carded sometimes because some people are just shit at age estimation. What matters is that the world's general attitude toward you has shifted. Sorry, kid. You can subsist on Cheetos, cartoons, and PlayStation all you like. Yet on a small but extremely meaningful level, the universe has finally noticed you and mentally assigned your ass an adult haircut and sensible shoes.
#4. The Moment You Realize "Not Keeping Up With Everyone" Works Both Ways
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I once wrote about the time when I first realized that there are people who will never like me, no matter what I do (spoiler: I got my ass kicked by a fat Boy Scout) and how important that realization was in making me slightly less of an asshole than I otherwise might have turned into. Today, I'd like to discuss a Bizarro version of that life lesson.
No, I don't mean that you should beat up a Boy Scout. I'm talking about learning that you don't have to please everyone. Put that kid down right now. Jesus.
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Besides, you don't want to pick a fight with one of these guys. Trust me, I know.
One notorious sign of becoming an adult is when the hodgepodge of acquaintances you've picked up along the way starts to shape into the pool of people you actually keep in contact with. Maybe you become famous and wind up with a new, more superficial circle of friends. Maybe you join a cult and don't have time for anyone who's not into summoning the Great Old Ones as much as you are. Or maybe you just move to another city, get married, have a kid or two, and are too exhausted to keep in touch with everyone. You'll lose contact with a whole bunch of people. It's natural and inevitable.
That part, most people can understand. The trick is to remember that this works both ways. Friends who you're technically on great terms with just drift away, as their interests and life situations lead them down a different path from you. Before you know it, your best friend from four years ago barely remembers to post a quick "happy birthday" on your Facebook wall -- and if he/she does, it's lowercase and unpunctuated, the lowest form of Facebook birthday wishing. It sounds obvious, but it's surprising how many people have reached this stage of life and have serious trouble accepting that part of the deal, and they spiral into a fit of attention-whoring, passive-aggressiveness, and outright drama whenever someone they met three times in 1992 doesn't immediately "like" their wacky cat post.
On a related note, stop fucking tagging people in your cat posts. There's no way that won't end with a set of rapidly incoming brass knuckles.
#3. The First Time You Reach A Life Goal You Didn't Know You Had
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Growing up into something approaching a halfway decent adult is a lot like leveling up; you get better at shit by hacking through your problems, trudging through countless mind-numbing tasks, and occasionally facing a boss battle. In this metaphor, the bosses are your life goals. We all have a bunch of them, depending on our life philosophy (which, incidentally, is not always quite what you think) and basic needs. We usually think we know our goals (get a good job, buy a house, raise a family, learn to wrestle tigers), but sometimes a surprise boss battle smacks us in the face when we least expect it -- and turns out to be the greatest experience we never thought we wanted.
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"Another bacon sandwich? Don't mind if I do."
You might not even recognize these surprise life goals when you stumble ass-backwards over them. Only later will you find that an unexpected achievement has etched its initials on your high-score list. Maybe it's something as monumental as clearing a debt you never thought you could manage. Perhaps you just stumble upon greatness by tripping on a curb and accidentally KOing a passing Floyd Mayweather with a massive haymaker as you fall fist first to the ground. You might get the girl/guy and save the day, or just find out that you really like the taste of ladybugs when you forget your motorcycle helmet and 17 of the damn things fly in your mouth at once. But, one day, you'll realize that your Life Achievement List features all sorts of bonus rounds that you never expected, yet you feel really good about having trudged through them.
It'll catch you by surprise, and it'll be awesome.