The Revolt Against Adulthood

Why don’t you grow up, Nicky? That’s the tried old refrain that never seems to get older than I do. It seems like I hear it from pretty much all the token adult figures in my life; my parents, my therapist, my government. And maybe they’ve got a point. I am over thirty, unemployed, painfully single and I still live at home. To be fair, I’m also certifiably mentally ill. As a slowly recovering shut-in, my lingering agoraphobia makes it damn near impossible to hold down even a part time job. But If I’m to be 100% honest to a gut-shiving fault, which is pretty much my whole shtick, my aversion to adulthood is far more complex than my inability to properly regulate good and bad stress.

I was raised in the wrong fucking gender by an establishment of adults who I was led to believe held the mandate of god himself, the ultimate adult figure. By in large, growing up, the adults in my life were cruel, petty, two-faced zealots who had their way with my trust until it quite simply ceased to exist. There is a very firmly moralist part of me that yells at the top of her deeply closeted preteen lungs, WHY THE FUCK WOULD I EVER WANT TO BE LIKE YOU!

I’ve talked about this disembodied voice before. The invisible girl who’s tired of suffocating beneath the biological trappings of manhood. She wants to come out and play with matches but she’s not particularly intrigued by the late capitalist banality of modern adulthood. And, in 2019, she’s not alone.

It seems like I come from an entire generation of kids who are downright allergic to adulthood. We are a lost generation that has chosen in overwhelming numbers to stay single, unemployed and live at home. We also seem to be a culture that is defined by our collective nostalgia. We’ve somehow managed to make washed-up boy bands and thirty year old cartoons a downright viable industry. we’ve gathered on the Internet into rabid cults devoted to everything from anime to My Little Pony. In the process, we have also become the butt of an endless barrage of jokes from older generations for refusing to conform to what their interpretation of what adulthood is. But isn’t that precisely what adulthood is? An interpretation, not unlike other equally subjective concepts like normality and sanity, of what constitutes a successful existence in a collapsing society running on fumes?

So what is an “Adult” in 2019. What earns one that cherished class distinction in the waning hours of the American Century? According to postmodern western society, an adult is someone who pays their taxes and votes for sensible centrist warmongers.

An adult is someone who works their fingers to the fucking bone for some half-lit cubicle despot who treats them with all the respect of branded cattle.

An adult cuts their hair and dresses like a goddamn ventriloquist dummy just to fit in with the other miserable fakes in the herd.

An adult builds them self an oversized suburban prison cell over virgin forests with granite counter tops and cathedral ceilings on the ocean floor of a raging sea of debt.

An adult gives into the peer pressure of competitive monogamy and pumps out two and a half kids before pushing their demons on them and punishing them for not being properly spoiled and jaded by the shining success of our empty neoliberal existence.

An adult beats their spouse after the home team loses and then sauces them self to sleep on a cocktail of hard alcohol and sleeping pills.

An adult is a faceless, spineless, living corpse who does as their told. And this is the “success” my generation of missing children should aspire too? Let me speak for all of us right now and tell the mincing successful adults in the room to go fuck themselves. Even the purgatory of delayed adulthood is better than the hell of their empty existence. Enjoy the Beamer and the fake tits, champ, you’ve earned it.

And my generation’s search for something meaningful in what this toxic society deems meaningless is hardly an anomaly. Many lost generations living in moribund societies pregnant with their own demise have chose to play hide and seek among the wreckage of their ancestors. In the final days of Weimar Germany and the Roman Empire, whole generations chose to abandon the responsibility of keeping their rusted hulk states alive in favor of indulging in the fantasy of burlesque houses and post-pagan orgies. Perhaps these are more than just contractions before the miscarriage. Perhaps there is something hardwired deep into our primordial lizard brains that still thirsts for a return to the natural world when the modern one is in shambles. One only capable of sustaining life in the years before we had been so thoroughly subjugated and assimilated by those gulags of adulthood called schools and the workforce.

There was an age in which we were all children, or primitive as the condescending gatekeepers of history in the Ivy Leagues call it. Before agriculture and property and adulthood, we hunted and gathered our collective resources and spent the lion share of our time engaging each other, irrespective of age, in meaningful play. I’ve known some much maligned folk who continue this tradition deep in the hollers of Appalachia. They receive the same amount of disrespect from academia as our primitive ancestors and they give same amount fucks about the adult world as I do. It’s easy to typecast those who embrace absurdity in absurd times, be they hillbillies or millennials, but maybe, just maybe, we’re all responding to something we’ve been robbed of by the progress of modern adulthood. And maybe it’s time we took it back.

This isn’t to say that my generation has it all figured out. We just know that the world is fucked up and it doesn’t have to be this way. Sadly, some of the decomposing adults are wise enough to acknowledge our discontent and shrewd enough to harness it to consolidate their own plush positions in a crumbling kingdom of shit. Ageing scions of malignant adulthood like Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have offered us the faulty illusion of safety beneath their condescending guardianship. These toxic father figures have offered us a candy store off goodies like free healthcare, free tuition, great big walls and even bigger battleships to turn this desperate land into one big safe crib as long as we agree to play nice and let them rape mamma with factory farms and smart bombs.

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you kids, but this is one (wo)man-child who’s not falling for the stranger’s candy again. I say we sneak out after dark and run amok on their wrinkled asses. I say we give the adults a taste of their own fucking medicine.

I say we stop giving the bullies our lunch money and use our would-be tax dollars to buy PlayStations, dope and electric guitars. I say we turn the census into a colossal game of Madlibs. I say we decorate every government building we can find with toilet paper and rotten eggs. I say we all show up to jury duty in blackface except the blacks who show up dressed as white powdered judges. I say we throw a gigantic water-balloon fight on the graves of Arlington with one red-nosed clown for every tombstone. I say we jam up the tailpipes of every police cruiser from Queens to Ferguson with Twinkies and bananas. I say we dose Washington’s water supply with homemade moonshine. And I say we all play hooky with a nationwide collective strike and gather at the National Mall to eat fluffer-nutters, make out and play Dungeons and Dragons until the adults step down and give us back our goddamned democracy.

More importantly, I say we stop saying ‘Yes mam’ and ‘No sir’ to people who don’t treat us with the respect to earn such knee-jerk platitudes. I say we take care of our parents, even if they are condescending dicks, instead of shoving them into homes. I say we tell our friends that we love them before they’re gone. And I say we make those friends and family a higher priority than making money to hand over to government thieves. I say we start doing what makes us happy rather than what makes us and the government rich. I say we stop dropping bombs on people for not playing the right games. And I say we start treating all children, young and old, with the kindness and respect we wish to be treated with. No more patriarchy. No more ageism. And no more second class citizens, shamed into the conformity of adulthood. No more invisible girls.

To put it frankly, fuck adulthood, dearest motherfuckers. It’s an overrated concept crafted by the dying to enslave the living. Our only responsibilities should be to each other and against the systems that divide us. Let the Nickelodean revolution begin and let it begin with me.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.

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