Michael Battalio

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Serious conversations (part 56): Adulthood part 2

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The fifty-fifth – fifty-ninth entries deal with adulthood.

        Previously I considered some criterion for adulthood. Here I talk about the reactions of people when they realize my age.

        The days of being mistaken for a high school student are waining, though I am occasionally taken for one.  I find being mistaken for a college student equally as annoying.  Though, that is a bit more understandable.  Sometimes once people realize my actual age, they do begin to treat me as an adult, but other times the disdain continues. Their disdain does soften to incredulousness but remains bubbling on the surface.  I certainly felt it when, for example, that natural gas technician from the last post (see SC part 55, June 6, 2014) came to turn the gas on.  I had a young girl come to sell cookies and ask if I was even old enough to drive. It also happened when I had a person soliciting tree pruning services at my door a couple of weeks ago.  The guy could not believe I was the owner of the house.  He asked if my parents were home.  Speaking of that, another reason that I feel less adult like is that I have a small stature for a male, so when I have to talk to people I am generally looked down to as if I were a child in height. That is obviously my problem, not the person I am interacting with though.
        However, it certainly isn’t that people continue to patronize me after they learning my age, but they do treat me differently than what another person might be treated.  It bothers me to such an extent that I dread having to interact with people on an adult level, as in dealing with adult type things like banking or calling an exterminator, etc.  I even think some of my introversion was caused by my fear of interacting with adults as a child.  I remember a particular instance when my dad was feeling lazy and had me go into the bank and deposit a check for him.  I was trembling with fear, and I ran out without a deposit slip.  I was embarrassed and confused, and I was probably a teenager at that point with no reason to be so frightened.
        In reflecting on that last couple of paragraphs I realize how much of a humble-brag it is. I’m sure a lot of people my age would love to be mistaken for a high school student. And I’m sure as I continue to age I’ll be more and more appreciative of looking younger than I do, as a lot of our society is based on looks. So I really shouldn’t complain so much. The fear I have with interacting with people is a real problem I must deal with though.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Serious conversations (part 55): Adulthood

        This series is a continuation of my conversations with an atheist friend of mine. These are my edited responses from that conversation. The fifty-fifth – fifty-seventh entries deal with adulthood.

        Because I still look like I am a teenager, my adulthood is often questioned. I frequently fear (and have for years) that I’m not taken seriously simply because I look so young. When I bought a house, countless people including my own realtor, lender, home inspector, and others questioned whether I was old enough to own a house. It is almost palpable to me the disdain I receive when I’m asked if I am old enough for something. When the utility serviceman came by the house to first turn on the gas he asked me quite sincerely if the owners of the house were around. I told him I was; whereby he replied, “You, are the owner?!” I could just read his mind: “Certainly you, little child, are not old enough to be doing adult things like this. And if you are old enough, how dare you still look so young.” I can’t help but grimace when thinking back on it.
        In fact whenever I have to go perform some errand that involves me interacting with professionals of some sort or anyone of an older generation, I become anxious that they will question, well, my adultness. Which leads me to, what is adulthood? Is it maturity, as in physical development?  Is it education (knowledge), wisdom, morality, having children, self sustainability, age alone? Looking like an adult certainly isn’t enough, but that is definitely how I’m frequently judged.
        Let’s start with education. That’s clearly not what makes someone an adult. I can think of several professors and other “adults” that have plenty of education but act like fools most of the time. Conversely, I know there are plenty of people who have never even graduated high school but are very adult-like. So perhaps education can cultivate adulthood, but it is not a necessary condition.
        Maturity is a bit of a nebulous thing. I look immature. I’ll probably never be able to actually grow a beard. I’m not going to be getting any taller. I assume I’ll develop wrinkles eventually, but I’m rather baby-faced now. My mom is still mistaken to be my sister at times, and I’m confident in saying my mom in an adult. Thusly, maturity is not the defining characteristic.
        Biologically having offspring can begin as a preteen, so simply being able to bring about a child can’t be the definition of adultness. Perhaps being capable of rearing children should be the better definition, and that age ranges widely from person to person. I’m 28 presently, and I still don’t think I am capable of raising children. Yet, my mother was 20 when I was born, and I have to say she did an excellent job of rearing me. I think most people would consider me an adult, so the ability to raise a child can’t be the only criterion, though simply because I don’t think I can raise a child does not mean I would not be able to do so. However, this also begs the question are mentally disabled people adults.  Some cannot raise children, but we consider them adults.
2003-2016 Michael Battalio (michael[at]battalio.com)