Today I felt like an adult.
Whenever someone refers to me as an “adult,” I quite literally grimace and ask them to not do that. I did absolutely nothing to earn the title of “adult” besides turn 18 a few months ago, which was not by my own accord. I did not feel any change in myself, physically or mentally. But, the last few days have felt different. A few weeks ago I quit my job at a restaurant and began working a daytime office job. Crazy. So for the last three weeks, I have been waking up at nine, sometimes eight a.m. and funnily enough living up to my website name. I dress in slacks, a collared shirt, and nice pointed shoes, get into my car and drive (without freaking out) to the office. However, it is not simply me doing those things that make me feel like I am an adult. Yesterday, through the glass of the conference room at work, I saw my face different, older even. I did not look in the mirror and see a five-foot-zero person who passes of as a 15-year-old (though I definitely do). I took a hard look at myself as I waited for my papers to finish scanning and realized that I look older, like an 18-year-old, like a grown person out of high school. And though I have been that 18-year-old out of high school for some time now, I always felt like a kid, until today. As I arrived at the office and went straight for the coffee, my dad joked that my steadily building addiction to the drink signified my official becoming an adult. Maybe he had a point because today I felt like myself and the craziest part was that it did not scare me. Instead, a wave of comfort washed over me.
For the longest time, that sense of settling into adulthood absolutely terrified me. That fear came to a head when I re-watched one of my favorite movies last week: The Breakfast Club. **spoilers ahead** (it came out 34 years ago so if you haven’t seen it yet that’s on you.)
During the scene that can be described as the most intimate in the film, the five teenagers sit in a semi-circle, gradually revealing more personal information about themselves as the conversation escalates. This moment of the film has always resonated with me, but not because of one particular quote. A line of dialogue from that scene that impacts me at the moment I am watching the film will alternate depending on what I am going through at the time, and this time around it was something Allison, “The Basket Case,” says that brought me to tears. Andrew, “The Jock,” asks if they are all going to be like their parents when they get older. Clarie, “The Princess,” immediately rejects the idea. But Allison disagrees with Claire and says:
And that is what broke my heart. The idea that I and everyone I know is getting older and everyone seems to be well-adjusted or calm or, dare I say, ready. And so I write this as a shout in the dark, I care. I care that maybe the only reason adults “adult” is because they are forced to and we are all doomed to lead lives we do not actually enjoy. Call me a cynic.
The film portrays a pretty clear picture of the relationship between adults and the youth. All of the teenagers have a horrible relationship with their parents and the most featured adult, teacher and detention monitor Richard Vernon, is a dick. ha get it? Anyway, the generation gap is addressed when Vernon confesses to the janitor Carl that it horrifies him that these kids are going to be the ones running the country and that they won’t be looking out for him when they do it because every year they become more arrogant. Carl, in all his wisdom, says
“the kids haven’t changed, you have!”
This comment reinforces Allison’s belief that adulthood is miserable and that we all lose something when we grow up. But, I think Carl is the silver lining that proves her wrong. He does not appear miserable or cold-hearted towards the kids at all. In fact, they all admire Carl, even Bender smiles at Carl when he defends his profession. Carl is an adult who has retained the spunk and authenticity of his youth, proving it is not impossible to do so.
When I confessed to my parents how miserable and unhappy I have felt recently, my dad immediately understood that my unhappiness stemmed from my panicked attempts to adjust to my changing lifestyle. I admitted to him that I do not feel ready to confront leaving home or growing up and becoming independent and I have not forgotten his response. He told me that I am speaking in the present tense. I am worried that the me I am right now at this very moment will not be able to handle the experiences I will be forced to endure in the future. However, the me of the future, who will have to confront those experiences, will be ready. Future me will have learned and grown and thus, be okay. And it does not have to be because my heart died or because I accepted the meaninglessness of my existence. I do not want to be that cynic anymore. It is not poetic or deep, it just makes living harder and being a person is hard enough without adding a negative adjective in front of it. Future me will be okay because I held onto my youth, something that is not just a number that changes every year, while still allowing myself to grow into a better me.
Whenever I finish The Breakfast Club, I do not entirely feel a sense of closure. Okay great, everyone allowed themselves to be vulnerable and make friends. but what will the next Monday back at school be like? I think everyone asks the same question. In my daily life, I battle between being the pessimist, the optimist, or the realist. When Brian, “The Brain,” asks the same question I just did, Clarie takes the “realist” route and says they will not be friends and this will never happen again. She gets called a bitch for it, but she has a point, realistically yes they could all keep living the lives that they have been living because that is the easier option. That is the option that does not require change or growth, something that can be challenging to allow yourself to experience. I, however, am choosing from this moment on to live my life differently. I want to be an optimist. This does not mean that being a realist is detrimental, but for me, it is an excuse and shortcut to being negative. I want to be someone who believes in themselves and trusts themselves enough to handle the future. I want to be the person who says that The Jock, The Brain, The Criminal, The Basket Case, and The Princess, all stayed friends.
-Ariana Martinez (A.M.)
I do not own these pictures.