Backwards Adulthood


People are free, children are not. The entire point of adulthood was to achieve a level of competence and maturity to be able to make one’s own choices. Instead, it’s turned out to be the opposite.

The narrative we’re sold: you’re a kid without agency. You can’t feed, clothe, or take care of yourself, and are dependent on your parents for all your needs. As such, you have to do everything they say. Your life is at their mercy. But that changes as you grow up. You mature, gain skills, take on more responsibility, and in time are able to take care of yourself, free to live your life as you see fit. Congratulations,  you’re an adult.

Back to reality: you have more choices as a kid. Your minimum competency requirement is to continue to breathe. Your parents are under a legal obligation to ensure you make it to adulthood, and are under a moral and social one to provide you with as many opportunities for learning and fulfillment as possible. If you were born to a middle class or higher family in a First World country, odds are they do their best to finance and indulge as many of your passing interests and hobbies as is feasible. All you have to do is get decent grades in school and not rock the boat too much, and the world is your oyster. Even if you’re a problem child who never listens to anything your parents say, you still get fed, clothed, and educated no matter what you do.

Then comes the rude awakening. You’re pressured into going to college under the warning that your life will lack opportunity if you don’t. Once finished, you instantly must get to work paying back your student loans. Maybe you take a year off to “find yourself,” only to lose yourself again upon returning to the real world. Get a job, and now you’re stuck doing just that for just those people. Get tired of it? Too bad. You have to pay rent, loans, car payment, bills, etc. What little free time you have is likely spent maintaining your lifestyle, from cleaning your vehicle and house to taking care of your appearance, to dealing with the health and maintenance issues that invariably crop up. Add a marriage and children to the equation, and that destroys what little was left of your agency. Your freedom to do what you want is reduced close to zero. Your sense if powerlessness is amplified from that of a child.

Adulthood should be about freedom. Instead, it has become about slavery. We struggle to achieve a situation that’s the opposite of what we hoped for. Take a stand and reverse that backwards situation. Live a different life. Reclaim your liberty.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • You should print this, seal it in an envelop, and open and re-read it when you are 50.

    • I think my parents did that, only they opened it in their mid-30s instead.