Tanya Ruckstuhl LICSW
I’ve been talking lately with clients and friends alike about Adulthood, and what makes this different from just being a grownup, which any bozo with a certain number of years on planet earth can claim.
Near as I can figure, adulthood has three requirements. First, an adult is primarily responsible for themselves. This doesn’t mean they never need help from others–in fact the capacity to receive is a hallmark of emotional health—but it means that an adult is someone who tries to meet their own financial and practical and emotional needs first, before turning to others for support. An adult knows that they are their own responsibility regardless of what another person did or didn’t do to them in the near or distant past.
Second, an adult protects the freedom to make their own choices. This means avoiding or getting treatment for addiction because addiction creates the removal of choice. This also requires getting treatment for mental health conditions, because depression and anxiety remove the freedom to choose fun things like throwing a party or asking that cutie out on a date.
Third, an adult feels a moral obligation to try to help others. This need extend no further than one’s own family: being a good parent and/or a loving spouse is one of the most radical acts of social improvement we can engage in. It can extend to one’s larger neighborhood or a marginalized ethnic group or city or this whole gorgeous blue and green planet we are all spinning around on. It doesn’t matter what scope of impact we choose, but we must try to have a beneficial effect in order to be a full-fledged adult.
It’s never too late to heal. If you find yourself falling short of these or your own internal benchmarks, reach for whatever support is available. We live in a generous world of second and third and five-millionth chances. We live in a generous world with many paths towards healing.