What The Burden Of Adulthood Actually Feels Like

Painting by  Lee Price

Painting by Lee Price

When do you become an adult? At 16, 18, or 21? Is it when you get your first job, when you get married, or when you have a child? I had never experienced a defining moment when I felt like I changed from a child or teenager into an adult. I am 25 years old. It always felt strange to think of myself as a grown up adult, despite having taken important decisions, fulfilling certain responsibilities, and doing other myriad tasks generally associated with growing up.

A few months ago I was thrust into a situation that, for the first time, made me realise my adulthood. And the burden that came with it. The situation: My grandfather passed away. The burden: The fear of losing the people you love.

I believe that this is the burden of adulthood. The fear of losing the people you love, those who you are close to, who are essential in your life, who make you the person you are, and who you think you cannot continue to live without.

Everyone feels various degrees of this fear in their lifetime. But I think when this fear becomes a sudden, unexpected reality, is when you take your first step into adulthood. This could happen at any stage in your life; you could be 5 or 25 the first time you experience this reality. Maybe if you are 5 you cannot process what has happened immediately. The loss of a loved one at a stage when you are mature enough to understand what has happened, then you can truly feel the consequences of that occurrence.

You will be able to feel the pain associated with the passing of that person, and you will realise that it does not end there. There are after-effects, like the little aftershocks of a big earthquake. Every little aftershock reminds you of the traumatic earthquake experience. You will remember the time that has passed, miss the time that could have been, all the things that were said and done, the things that were left unsaid, and those that should have been done. You will cry, or be rendered mute. You may not be able to sleep or may end up whiling away the days sleeping trance-like. You will react to this information in x different ways over y time period. And then you may experience a crushing fear. The little degrees of fear that you were feeling all your life have suddenly come true all at once and you realise that this could happen to anyone you love, at any time.

And that is when you truly feel the burden of adulthood. You realise that this is a part of growing up. As you grow older, the people in your life grow older too. You realise that they are not invincible. And that someday you will have to bid farewell to them all.

Maybe this realisation changes you in some way. Maybe it makes you do some things differently. Maybe it doesn’t. But there is one thing that it definitely does.
It makes you an adult.

Submitted to ArtParasites by Prakriti