Growing Up and our Culture’s Game of Chicken

Our culture is playing a particularly strange game of Chicken when it comes to adulthood and the concept of growing up. We try and put of growing off as long as possible in the mistaken belief that by doing so we will prolong the fun that we are enjoying now. It is as if we have developed an irrational phobia around the markers of adulthood namely marriage, children and responsiblity. Things which ironically the bible and pretty much every culture that ever existed bar our own tells us are sources of joy.

As someone who has sat with countless young adults and discussed their fear around growing up, I have become very adept at  cutting through the clutter and cultural catchphrases and getting to the heart of the matter. Occasionally I encounter young adults who are afraid of growing up because of dysfunctional or abusive family dynamics that have impacted them from their childhood. But from my experience the overwhelming number of young adults (particularly young men) who fear and thus delay adulthood do so because of two very simple creeds.   

I want to be able to do what I want when I want to

I want to be able to spend what I want when I want to.

At the end of the day this is radical individualism at its most robust. Relationship and responsibility are sacrificed for the myth of hedonism. But sadly this game of chicken can only have one loser, the pedestrian who decides to play chicken with a truck can stand on the road as long as his nerve lets him, but at some stage they must jump as there is only going to be one winner when flesh meets metal. My fear is that many in our culture are going to find themselves holding off too long and missing out on some of life’s true treasures. I am going to leave the last telling words to Hugh Grant who is freaking out that he is turning fifty.  

“It’s not a good number 50 and we all have age terrors sometimes in the middle of the night. I think I might have made a sort of pact with the devil in which I think I can have fun now and sort everything later. But then he comes back and says, ‘Times up and I’m taking you to hell as you’re going to be a lonely, sad old man.'”

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