I’ve always loved Minneapolis, although to be truthful I’ve just always loved big cities. Having been born and raised on the outskirts of two major metropolitan areas, I’ve come to associate suburbia with my stereotypically American dream to settle down and start a family. Minneapolis, meanwhile, represents the beginning of my untethered young adulthood – big, noisy, sexy, skyscrapers and happy hour and high heels clicking down the skyway. Granted all types of people (most of whom live in suburbia, like my dad) work and play in Minneapolis, so my vision of the city may be selectively blind. Still, when the sun sets and I venture out into the electric city glow after work, my white girl swagger comes out in full force. I really can’t control it. Living and working in Minneapolis straight up makes me feel like a cool adult.
This past weekend, the slubs gathered together at Kat’s house to commune with good friends and appreciate our mutual slubiness. In between bites of strawberries dripping with chocolate fondue we clucked like hens about work and school. In a natural progression the conversation slipped into questions about the future, and we asked each other: what’s your plan for next year?
Inherent in that question is the assumption that everyone would have already mapped out their lives for the next few years. We’re all adults here – that’s what adults do. The white girl swagger is proof.
Out to coffee with my mother and a few good friends last night, the question came up again. It’s entertaining and cathartic to hash out the details of past events, and if you’ve got a flare for storytelling, the past is your jam. But the future: that’s what everyone is really interested in. There’s a reason Americans are chronically more stressed than our European neighbors. We have a constant, persistent need to know what’s next, and we push ourselves and each other to figure out the answer.
As American youth, our transition from childhood into adulthood isn’t necessarily marked by a standard ritual event. If I were required to hunt a fearsome beast to prove my maturity, the best I could capture in suburbia would be a bunny or a squirrel. Even graduating from college or getting your first job isn’t a universal indicator for every American teenager that he or she is now an adult. Let’s take off our rose-tinted glasses: not everyone has access to higher education. Many children spend their sacred younger years working to support their families.
Still, at a certain time, society at large has begun to assume that my generation is now part of the adult masses. And we perpetuate the idea: I can tell anyone I meet that I work for a financial company in downtown Minneapolis and pass as mature.
But what really makes us adults? Is it the coffee we drink? The people in our network? The neighborhood we live in? The furniture we bought at Ikea? The bills we pay? When we get married, buy a car or a house, have a baby, does that mean we’re officially adults? Perhaps it’s the salary we make, or the type of employment we have, or the degrees we hang on our wall. Maybe it’s in the answer to the all-imposing future question: I have a plan, I’ve worked it out. Stand aside – I’m on my way.
What makes us adults? Try typing the question into Google. You’ll return a mess of jumbled information and very few answers. This is the best thing I’ve found, for all my brief internet searching:
“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” – Margaret Atwood
If you’re an adult, please share with the slubs and our readers how you got there. For all my white girl swagger, I think I may still be trying to figure it out.