Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Best Predictor You'll Be A Happy, Well-Adjusted, Adult
I have an unofficial barometer for measuring which years will be happiest for you. Will they be the four teenage ones you spent in high school or will they be the vast majority of the rest of your life? For the popular bunch who consider high school "the best years of their lives," unfortunately, they will probably forever remain so. For the rest of us who remember high school as a bit "challenging," if not "impossible at times," the best is either now or yet to come.
Think of what that microcosm of time we call high school was really like. It was a time when you had no responsibilities, and getting attention was first and foremost in your mind. You were at an age where you were at your most selfish. Hardly a time when one becomes equipped with the necessary resources for adulthood. If you were one of the popular crowd, exclusion was what you were all about since in order to BE popular, those not in your crowd, i.e,. the rest of us, would have to be left out of the loop. These are not good qualities to help you go forward through life.
I found this point illustrated beautifully in the movie "Young Adult." I finally rented it after being intrigued by the premise when it was released in the theaters last year. Charlize Theron plays Mavis, a thirty-seven-year-old divorced writer of novels for teenage girls, who now lives in Minneapolis with her little dog and is writing the very last book of her series which is soon to be cancelled forever. She returns to her small hometown in Minnesota where she was once a "popular" girl, and she misses her high school boyfriend, Buddy, and that period of time which was the "best years of her life."
She decides to claim Buddy back as her boyfriend despite the fact that he's now settled down with a wife and newborn daughter! Mavis calls him up, and Buddy agrees to meet with her platonically. Later, he invites Mavis to see his wife's "mom rock band" perform at a club where she's the drummer, and all the other members are also moms. They perform a song from their high school era which Mavis still considers to be her and Buddy's song. That part was very symbolic to me because earlier we had seen Mavis listening to the song from a mixtape while driving in her car on her quest to get Buddy back, but when Buddy's wife performs that song with her "mom rock band," Buddy's wife reclaims it. Time has moved on. It's her song now. Hers and the rest of her band. Buddy is all smiles while he watches his wife perform. You can see how happy he is. How settled. This is reality now.
At the end of the movie, Mavis marvels at the fact that "People here are satisfied with so little." If high school hadn't raised her expectations so high, meaning that she must always be popular and better than everyone else, she wouldn't still have a false sense of entitlement. She is now a member of the adult population. She is just one adult among many. Neither special nor entitled. If "so little" means being happily married with a wife and daughter and having some fun on the weekends seeing your wife's "mom band" play, then yes, I guess the people in this town are satisfied with very little. And yes, I'd choose that reality over being prom queen any time!