At my church we have this thing called a "connection card" that we use towards a trifold purpose of engaging visitors, signing up for church events, and responding to the sermon. One side covers strictly demographic sort of information: who are you, where do you live, which service did you go to, what age group are you in . . . and when they flashed the connection card graphic up on the screen during announcements today, I noticed something I never noticed before. [These INFPs and their fixation on irrelevant details.] The age group is divided by 20s, 30, 40s, 50s, and 60s plus. I officially fall into the first category. I am officially four decades away from sixty. A third of the way there! Even worse, I'm halfway to the big four-oh. These first twenty years of my life positively flew by, and it's only going to get faster from here.
But you know what all of this means, yeah? The age group I don't fit in with anymore? The teenagers. Which is so weird! I've spent a large portion of my life identifying with the teenagers. It's all I really know how to be! But as we conclude our study of adolescence and move on to the section on emergent adulthood, my developmental psychology class is highlighting now more than ever the importance of embracing the responsibilities and industries that come with adulthood in order to, I don't know, be well-adjusted, or something. I'm kind of sort of not a kid anymore! So when I saw the connection card up there on the screen, all I could think of was 1 Corinthians 13:11. "When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."
So I am thinking now what sorts of childish things I need to put away and what sort of adultish things I ought to embrace? . . . nothing is immediately coming to mind. And I blame this partly on our culture (as well as my Peter Pan complex), which has extended this growing up process to much longer than it used to be. The economy is demanding more skilled workers, which is demanding higher and higher levels of education that are keeping young adults in school longer. Entering the work force is not what it was, apprenticeships are the minority, and 20-somethings are living in their parents' basements a lot longer. So, I mean, in the financial independence area I'm a little stuck for now. Though I try and cover my expenses myself, I just don't have the dough, and I appreciate my parents' willingness to continue taking care of me for now.
But financial independence is only one criterion for adulthood. I worry that I grow more immature with each passing month. What sorts of childish things do I need to put away? Staying up all night reading a riveting book? Watching TV when I should be studying? Dancing around in an undignified manner during trips to the supermarket? Ah, yes and no. I think I just need to have higher standards for myself. Like, okay, Caleb is getting so old, and I'm so proud of him, but I was telling him how he needs to start working hard in school. How he can't rely on his intelligence to coast through and indulge laziness. And it was stupid, because I didn't even realize when I was telling him this that I really ought to be telling it to myself. Life is hard and it requires hard work! Maybe putting away childish things also includes creating less childish standards.
As an interesting aside, the Erikson stage for this developmental level is intimacy versus isolation, which means last week was relationship advice week. According to research by Sternberg, the success of a relationship is predicted not by what the other person actually thinks about you, but what you think they thing about you. Perception is reality! So you can tuck that tidbit of information away.
Guys. Growing up is hard to do!