What does it mean to adult? To be an adult? There is no clean simple answer to so big of a question. Here is a part of an answer. Time’s wasting, let’s begin.
To be a level 3 adult, you have to first clear level 1, and know how to provide for yourself. You also have to clear level 2, and do something useful. These equip you with the material means to become a member of society, worthy of esteem, which are tools you need to tackle level 3.
Following the grand tradition of ha ha, only serious – the poster here gets Level 3 Adulting. He’s recently hit The Moment, which we’ll discuss. But first, we have to start at the beginning. We’re already in very strange territory.
Wait, How did we get here?
When we are young children, we are like scientists. We gather data and have all of the experiences that we can. We generalize from those experiences, and we tell what’s true about the world. In the nucleus of our families, or whatever situation we’re raised in, we learn adaptive patterns. These are ways of being in the world, that given the full fucked up scope of what reality is, get us the closest to happy and productive as we can be.
Adaptive patterns (like kindness, openness, sarcasm, distrust, rage, optimism, etc.) get wired into our personalities. They become part of who we are, because we learn them early, and then relentlessly drill them, for years, with repetition and practice.
Let there be no mistake why they seem so deeply baked in: it’s because they’ve been practiced and honed for decades, to the point of becoming “emotional muscle memory”.
Sometime in adolescence, or when you become an adult, your patterns of life change. Maybe it’s that you move into a different family unit, starting your own. Maybe it’s a school or job change. What matters is that you are in a different fishbowl, and the constraints and assumptions are different.
Which in turn mean that what you developed for yourself, your adaptive patterns, are now dysfunctional.
That’s the moment. When you realize: I have the wrong tools for the job. Maybe your sarcasm was protecting you against truly connecting, in an environment where it wasn’t safe to connect to other people. Maybe your lack of trust was rational, because the people around you weren’t trustworthy.
The moment is the gateway. Welcome to Level 3 Adulting: Fix Your Shit
Fix Your Shit
Level 3 adulting means you realize:
- You’ve got some shit you need to deal with
- All other adults do too, whether they know it or not, whether they admit it or not.
- Fixing it is going to hurt
- You’ll make an honest effort, when you are able, despite these facts
Level 3 adults accept all of these points. But just so we’re crystal clear…
We’ve got to call it shit because that’s what it is. I’m not going to cover this up and make it sound nice, or over psychologize it. Some people have rape trauma, emotional neglect, trust issues, low self-esteem, and all manner of other things going on. It doesn’t help to call them “issues”. Issues are what magazines have. This is shit.
Everybody’s Got It
If you consider how we learn and grow, and develop adaptive patterns, you will realize that everyone’s got varying degrees of shit. The proof is this: everyone goes through different life phases where the constraints change. And so, unless you live in a bubble where nothing ever changes, the world will put you in a situation where many of your strengths become liabilities.
You Still Have to Fix It
Reality is real and will not go away if you bury your head in the sand. Your shit affects your happiness, your future prospects, and your effectiveness in the world. If you care about life in general or your place in the cosmos, there is only one way and that is forward out of your shit.
You Don’t Get An Instruction Manual
There is no pill, no book, no self-help regime that will do this for you. Get quick fixes out of your head as fast as you possibly can, because they will waste your time and money and land you right back at The Moment.
There are guides, practices, and people to learn from. No one else’s method will work for you, but if you learn about a few people’s methods, you might gain some insight that will help.
About the only general advice I can give, is that as best I can tell, this is a progressive overload game, where you build strength and self-improvement gradually, and not all at once.
It’s The Most Epic Game In Town
I was going to say “this is going to suck” but really that is an incomplete sentiment. It’s true; self-improvement is going to suck, but it’s also the most epic game in town because as you accomplish it, the feeling of mastery and improvement is amazing.
And I promise you, it’s worth it.
But fuck it, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s worth it or not, because if you’re intellectually honest about the situation, you don’t have a choice.
Go fix your shit.
Unlike level 1 and 2, the consequences here are more abstract, and generally deal with things like self-mastery, happiness, self-worth, and fulfillment in life. Level 3 is hard ongoing work that probably never ends at all, and should be thought of more as a process you commit to, and less of a thing that you accomplish.
In level 1 and level 2, you are really only trying to get the pre-requisites underneath of you, so that you can begin a process of self-improvement at level 3. The real consequence of not working on level 3 is stasis: life & you may stay the same for years at a time.