Is becoming an adult just slowly sliding into a life free of any enthusiastic longing?
Stimuli and life events just don’t taste the same anymore. Is growing up growing “thrillfree”?
I remember being a very contemplative teenager. Not in the sense that I would stare into the void and get absorbed in my thoughts not acknowledging what was going on all around me, but rather very present to the moment. I remember hanging out with my group of friends, at their house or on the streets of the town I grew up in, and the comfort and warm joy it brought was at that time very vivid to me. I was able to contemplate and appreciate those moments for what they were because I was able to experience something I am now struggling to bring back into my life: mindfulness. Those times were carefree, they were also ones of experimenting and pushing limits. Even in the darkest of my teenage years, I was somehow able to appreciate life and the human experience for what they were: a beautiful chaos, with no other purpose than our entertainment— or so I thought. In that sense, I was a witness to my own very messy existence, and the randomness of it all was something very amazing to me, magical even. Every little event, happy or sad, could be sublimated into something else, and I was then able to apply wisdom to every aspect of my life.
Excitation, too, was real, and very present. Every stimuli, every new experience would bring a lesson, or a new sensation. This is how it felt to mindfully live through my teenage years and all the first times that usually escort them. First day out with friends, first time on our own at the cinema, first party, first concert, first sip of alcohol, first crush, first kiss, first vacation on our own, first love, and first time making love, all encompassing a very vivid sense of companionship and endless youth. Then came other first times, that are more relevant to entering adult life: first apartment, first move out of your childhood town, first serious heartbreak, first one-night stand, first big disillusion, first job, first travel alone, first signs of a long-lasting existential dread and so on. And these were followed by many many second times, until they eventually lost all their flavor and extraordinariness.
Being only 26, I still find that sense of excitement in many things. I get excited, mostly, when I am about to publish a piece I am proud of and get paid for it, when I fall in love again, or when I’m about to book plane tickets for a place very far away —mainly the first two. Which, unfortunately, don’t happen that often. I feel like becoming an adult in the present society has robbed me from my ability to enjoy small things. On the other end, I am getting better at handling disappointment, and have managed to live through enough disillusionment for the time being. But I cannot help but think that I am spoiled with life. Everything has become “normal”. Nothing is “amazing” anymore, and when it looks like it is, my adult brain copes in advance with a possible disappointment by listing all the things that could end up being “not so great”. In the most peaceful and enjoyable of moments, I cannot help but have my mind drift elsewhere —somewhere involving taking care of my taxes or wondering if I will chose the right path to not end up on the street at 40. A place kingdom to practical issues and irrational fears for the future. If I were still able to be mindful, I know I could still sit silently observing the extraordinary beauty of life and sorrows gently flowing around me. Joys and pains have just become annoyingly common. My humanity has become annoyingly familiar. It, in other words, takes a lot for me to feel “alive” these days. I just want to be amazed at being sad again, but sadness has just become…sadness.
When I was a kid, every year would revolve around two longings: from September to December 25th, I would be waiting for only one thing—Christmas. Once December 25th had passed, I’d start my six-month wait for the summer. There were so many things to be expected from life and to be excited about, things as simple as time just passing by. Now, time goes by and it just scares me to hell most of the time. I still get excited when I am about to travel to the other side of the globe, but my hopes for excitement and transcendental experiences are not as high. I’ve become a jaded privileged never-truly-enthusiastic twenty-something when I used to be able to plunge into amazement on just being alive.
My desires may have shifted towards something more real, something that will take more time to reach. Something closer to that contemplative happy state I was able to reach when I was younger and had not gone through years of constant search for external stimulus through substance and human consumption.
Maybe this new “normality” is a good thing. It might be the sign that I am slowly losing any delusion I came to develop about life, or travel, or love, or how fun parties actually are, and might actually help me reach another state of mind and being — and, eventually, happiness. Something more real and slow-paced, more in touch with who I truly am, stripped of all that ego-and-consumption driven bullshit that thrives in our Western societies. A warm-cup- of-tea kind of happiness.