Adolescent vs Adult Mindset

One of my friends suggested this and it’s sticking with me: the difference between adolescence and adulthood is being reactive vs. being active.

When you’re a child, you don’t really have much agency. You kind of take the world as it comes. (Or you throw a tantrum if you don’t like it. But you don’t usually have other ideas.)

When you’re an adolescent, you’re learning to exercise agency in the world, but it’s in a reactive way. You sit in school and answer the teacher’s questions; you choose to obey your parents or not; maybe you pick your clothes from the few options at the store your parents take you to.

(at least, this was my experience of childhood and adolescence. I remember it was revolutionary when I could decide not to play Little League baseball one summer. Not that my parents forced me to; it just never really occurred to me that I could not do it. It was just a part of my identity. Perhaps others were more evolved than I was as a young’un.)

To be an adult, though, is to actively create your world, not to merely choose from a few options that are presented to you. To say “Nobody’s offered this, but here’s what I want.” (It’s surprisingly effective! I love discovering ways in which I can transfer from adolescent-mode to adult-mode. Here’s a few, incidentally.)

This is really present for me socially recently. It’s always hard to make a choice, to initiate an event, start a conversation, or to go on any kind of a limb, but it’s the only way you can be fully present as an adult.

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