Once in a blue moon I find myself stumbling through the rabbit hole that is YouTube and watching a smattering of videos on a particular topic, all in a row, sometimes for hours at a clip – professional wrestling matches, music videos, and most recently, videos of atheists/humanists debunking creationist videos. Usually having fun at their expense, but still pointing out my favorite method of debate: “you are wrong, and here is why”. I don’t do it to affirm my own lack of belief – I’ve been open enough throughout the years about my never actually being a believer – but as a reminder that bad arguments exist everywhere, and deserve to be approached.
Those videos can be highly entertaining, but this last go-round they actually have made me a bit sad as well. Not empathetic so much for the attempts at converting me or other non-believers (that still feels “dirty” to me, trying to “save” a person from themselves when they can be perfectly happy and healthy as they are) but disappointed at some of the ways even my fellow atheists approach the aggressive proselytizing of the faithful with a nearly-equal fervor. And it’s made me really try to break down, both for myself and for anyone who might not understand, why so many atheists can come off either angry or frustrated in the face of the one trying to convert them.
It’s a pretty simple, straight-forward answer even.
Of the many things I tend to keep “ordinary” in my life, one has always been my hair. Specifically my hair. From a young age I’ve generally had at least shaggy, if not long, locks. I remember as a kid that my dad would tease me for keeping long hair and offer me a buzz cut, to which I would politely, then loudly, decline. There were jokes that baldness ran in the family – my grandfather is pretty “light on top” – and that I should either shave my head and get it over with, or “enjoy it while I have it”. (I took the “enjoy it while I have it” approach.)
I’ve had hair that went down to about my shoulders after not cutting it for a year and a half, I’ve had fairly short on top but still long enough to blow it out of my eyes, and generally kept it just long enough to move whenever I moved my head. Simply put, I had the same general haircut for most of my 31 years. So basically, on a stray thought I couldn’t let go, I decided to do something about that.
And now, for the end of this summer, my head doesn’t need as much air conditioning.
As I write this, it’s the end of a day of work, and the second day in two months I’ve felt truly able to relax without the anxiety of something I “need” to work on (for financial gain, I mean). I worked today, I was offended today, and I calmed back down after light grocery shopping today. And as I stared at my reflection in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, I started to really see myself as an “adult” – a moniker I’ve gone over thirty years trying to avoid.
I still prefer the term “grown-up”, personally. Think about it like this: when you were a kid dreaming of the things you could do when you got older, did you ever think of doing what adults did, or what grown-ups do? The difference is, “adult” is a word steeped in repetition and responsibility, while the term “grown-up” is what people were… people who rode the big roller coasters, who traveled all over the world. The people who could do anything they wanted at any time. Ice cream and cookies for dinner! Go to the arcade at the mall and just play games the whole time! No kid wants to be an adult, they don’t want that hassle!
But as I looked at myself, identifying the small scars on my face, the day’s accumulated stubble, and even the beginnings of the wrinkles at the corners of my eyes (that I’ve earned by smiling a lot, by the way), I saw myself as the rest of the world sees me: a thirty-year-old man, the kind of face that blends into a crowd, that isn’t so good at one particular thing as to earn fame from it.
Having reached this point, I’d like to tell you what I’ve learned adulthood – grown-up-hood – actually is. No more misconceptions, I think I’ve learned what being “all grown up” actually is.