#2. The Moment Your Family Patterns Start to Show
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Unless you're willing to take part in the kinds of experiments that'll probably require you to fight Spider-Man somewhere down the line, you can't really do shit to influence your genetic makeup. We all are a human-shaped bowl of gene porridge made of ingredients from our mom and our dad, and that's the thin and thick of it.
Technically, we're all well aware of this fact. It's just that when it actually gets its pants off and starts dong-slapping us across the cheeks, we're never quite ready.
One day, you're going to notice you sport the hairline and jowls of your father. Or maybe you start a fight with your significant other, only to find out your style of debate and spontaneous reactions are the exact same stingers one (or, if you're a really interesting arguer, both) of your parents favored when you were a kid.
"Good thing neither of us takes after dad, eh, Bob?"
"Hold on, what? I thought you were dad."
Sure, you can fight it. Tons of people don't like their parents and attempt to be the antithesis of them. If they were conservative middle class, you may very well wind up the teen in torn jeans and a PUNK IS NOT DEAD vest, or whatever the cultural equivalent for people who are not as out of touch with today's kids as I clearly am. If ma and pa raised you in a hippie commune and you had crabs by the time you were 14 thanks to the communal bath, you might be heading for Wall Street. You might even rebel in a way that's not horribly cliched and stereotypical at all. Unfortunately, as we've mentioned before, it's completely useless. Little by little, bit by bit, you're going to turn into yet another update for your family OS, and no amount of Marilyn Manson you listened to as a teen is going to help you.
"I think it's time to update; the current system seems kind of chunky."
Again, this is not a good thing, per se. It's not a bad thing, either. It's merely a thing that is. Also, it's very much a thing that you need to realize. Otherwise, you might try too hard to rebel by becoming a certain type of adult, which means you might never notice ...
#1. The Moment You Realize You'll Never Completely Grow Up
There are tons and tons of people who will never realize that adulthood is not a goal in itself.
It's more of a side effect of being you as hard as you possibly can.
I'm not saying that you should devote your life to the "you" who enjoys getting wasted before noon, knows the Konami Code by heart, and considers wearing pants only when it's someone's wedding. You can totally let that aspect of your personality out every once in a while, but it shouldn't be in charge all the time. The trick is to recognize that this piece of you exists, instead of trying to stifle it.
Pictured: a terrifying monster trying to rob you of your adulthood.
Back when I was younger, I always sort of expected to magically become an adult -- to one day wake up as a responsible creature that knows the workings of the world and never ever eats cereal in his underwear while watching wrestling on YouTube at 9 am on a Tuesday. After years of striving to become that civilized fucker, I finally realized that he flat-out doesn't exist. All I'm ever going to become is a slightly less inexperienced me. This is another thing that tends to draw enthusiastic "yeah, I've totally been there" reactions whenever it comes up in the conversation. At some point, we all realize we're never going to gain that seemingly supernatural grown-up insight our parents had, because they were totally winging it too.
This is yet another thing that we all sort of know in the back of our heads, and even Hollywood -- the most cynical of all entities -- likes to remind us of the importance of keeping in touch with our inner child with a movie or six every year. Even so, many of us still strive to reach that arbitrary, nonexistent Adulthood Medal, with our career aspirations and fears of death and all the other junk we tend to get our head all stuck up with.
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"WE'RE PLAYING 'RESPONSIBLE ADULTS'! AHAHAHAHAHA!"
So why don't we all just fucking stop it? It's not like we'll become any wiser by pretending we're more grown up than we actually are.
Let's face the facts: You might be a parent of five. You might not have kids at all. You might be rich as Croesus, or struggle to make the next month fiscally alive. But you're always, always going to be a little kid at heart. You see it every day, with large, hard people who openly weep tears of happiness when their team scores, and hardcore businesspeople who drop their tough-as-nails role when they see their baby smile. Those moments are the ones we live for. They're not about adulthood, they're about pure, unbridled joy.
So, by any means, be as much or little of an adult as you want to. Just remember to drop the grown-up bullshit every once in a while, and fucking go embrace the little joys in life.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked columnist and freelance editor. Follow him on Twitter.