This isn’t a post about writing books.

Or even a post about responsibility or creativity or the writing life or being gainfully employed.

I mean, it’s kind of about those things? But also, it is so much bigger.

Sometimes I use this blog as a place to talk about my favorite things, and today I’m going to tell you my favorite thing about being an adult.

I know, I know. That is probably not what you were expecting, since the pervasive subtext around here is how I generally make a pretty bad adult.


Just … hear me out.

When you’re little, people are always telling you things. You know the things I mean. They have all these ideas about what you are and are not supposed to say to relatives, and which clothes match,* and whether you should ever hit people (rarely), and when it’s okay to take a plate out of the kitchen (never).

And they have reasons, and the reasons usually even make a certain kind of internal sense.

The thing is, when you’re little and you’re still learning about the world, adults really, really just want to help you turn into good adults. And that’s perfectly fine—in fact, it’s highly understandable. But the actual process can be very frustrating, because there’s this near-constant implication** that if you don’t want to do what they’re telling you, then something’s wrong with you. You are being “willful” and “difficult” and “childish.” You will “grow out of it.”

The thing is, sometimes when you’re little, adults don’t want you to climb on power transistors, and that’s cool. Because what they really want is for you to not die. (You may not appreciate this until you’re much older, but when you’re little, adults have to dedicate a lot of time and attention just to keeping you from jamming forks in electrical outlets.)

But sometimes, they don’t want you to go outside in your socks.

Now, this still makes a certain kind of sense. The concrete is hard on socks, and societal norms dictate that socks are not outerwear, and we invented shoes for a reason, blah, blah, blah.

When you are an adult, however, you become the organizer of your own priorities. You are the buyer and washer of your socks. You are now your own sock-decider. So, if you find yourself facing a scenario where it’s kind of cold out, but you’re not wearing shoes and there’s a rabbit in your yard and you want to see it before it runs away, you are the only one can legitimately say whether or not the desire to see a rabbit—or a giant, portable, inflatable pig, or the circus—supersedes the impropriety of wearing your socks outside.

Embrace this, because it is the absolute best part of being an adult.

You might think I’m joking or exaggerating, but I am in deadly earnest.

When you’re an adult, you get to decide the value of each and every social constraint for yourself, and for the most part, you stop being labeled stubborn or sensitive or difficult or childish, and just start being … unusual.

All the many and multitudinous things that grown-ups love so dearly to act like you are doing to them? Now, there’s no one around to take those things personally. Now, you’re just doing them.

If you want to stay up all night because you have stuff to do, you can. If you want to eat waffles on the back porch, or build a treehouse, or paint dinosaurs on your ceiling or dye your winter coat purple to match your hair or your boots or your car? Do it. No one can stop you.

The age of majority does not mean that you have to stop acting like a child. It just means that now you can do all the little, silly, joyful things you always wanted to.

Only now, no one can tell you you’re being … childish.

*For the record: even at this officially grown-up stage of my life, my clothes still don’t match. They go together. There is a difference, and that difference is … fashion.

**Let’s face it, sometimes it’s less an implication and more just something people tell you. With their words. Don’t listen. They don’t know. The bouncy castle is still just as much fun when you’re an adult.

8 thoughts on “Unusual

  1. I remember, with great clarity, standing in the cereal aisle after I moved out to go to university, and thinking “I am going to eat chocolate cereal for dinner every night this week. Because I can.”

    And, lo, I did.

  2. I think I may have been that kid that never ran outside in his socks. I hope I wasn’t, that I’ve just forgotten. I had favourite clothes. I still do, but now they get replaced before they get holes.
    Hi :). It’s been a while since I’ve stopped by. Today I was reading your book, Paper Valentine, and my 11 year old daughter, who had arrived for her weekend visit, hopped onto the bed beside me and said, “I’m going to read beside you.” She read Maggie’s, the Raven Boys. She’s reading my books now.
    It was the best moment of my week, and I’ve had some good moments this week. Hope you’re great. Cheers.

    • For me, though, it didn’t click until I was 25ish, but I’ve spent the last 5 years making up for lost time!

      I occasionally find myself buying into that old adage that youth is wasted on the young, and then I remember that I am 100% totally certain youthfulness is a mental state rather than a physical condition, and I am here to explore that thoroughly!

  3. I never fully realized any of this, everything my parents have to do…… I mean I’m still techincally a kid, (only 17) but wow… My parents, I guess i just never saw it……..

    • I really didn’t see it either—not for a long time. Even when I could recognize that there was plenty of sense in what I was being told, it took me quite awhile to really understand that everyone is making their value judgments based on their own set of priorities, and if your priorities aren’t aligning? Then of COURSE it feels like you aren’t understanding each other!

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