I think time is a relative concept, and that’s not a physics joke. There are two kinds of time that exist; the chronological time that describes the entropic decay of the universe, the movement of particles, and the rotation of the earth, and the concept of interior time. The former governs how the universe works, the latter describes our “sense” of the world. I’ve been bemused by Heidegger’s work, “Sein Und Zeit”, for a few years, and only recently have I determined how it applies to me.
I have been eighteen for five years. I think I always will be. My interior clock is frozen in 2007. I think that’s what some psychologists would call “developmental delay”, because emotionally I haven’t progressed any further than my late teens. I am no more prepared for adulthood than I was before I went to university, and although since then my knowledge and skills have evolved, I don’t feel any more capable of “being a grown up” than I did then. Perhaps it’s a systemic problem, or a sociological one. My grandparents and great-grandparents were emotionally and psychologically capable of doing it by themselves, up to and including raising a child, at my age. They knew how the world worked and where they fit in and, I guess, they were happy. But each generation pushes the threshold of adulthood back. My parents were mature by thirty. I guess my generation, including me, will become fully-functioning adults around the time we expect to have our mid-life crisis. I guess it’s a good thing that medical technology is progressing to the point where some people alive today will comfortably live to be a hundred years old (though not me, of course, because I drink and smoke and don’t exercise enough and I sure as shit don’t eat my five a day). I guess it will be weird for them, being that old. It’s weird for me, feeling (and looking, depending on the light) eighteen.
What I’m trying to articulate, if I’m trying to articulate anything, is my progressive unease at finding myself physically older and no wiser, or more capable. Partly I think it’s my situation. Being stuck at home is enough to make anybody feel infantile – after all, our behaviour is molded by how we’re treated. But it’s more than that, because occasionally I’ll look at the clock and go, “Wow. It’s 2013? How come I’m still eighteen? Are people starting to suspect I have a painting in the attic?” I have to understand it by working backwards. I’m twenty-three – that means I graduated a year and a half ago (wow, already?). It means I was twenty-one two years ago, and it means I was eighteen five years ago, and it means that I’m one third of the way through my life expectancy. It means I’m nearing the mid-way point between eighteen and thirty. It means I’m no longer a teenager – I’m a young adult. It means I should get a fucking grip on my life.
I think I’ll always be eighteen, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I won’t ever be able to be a grown person. I’ll still be playing with Lego when I’m fifty. And I know a lot of people my age are having a similar problem with the idea of growing up. And they predict that before too long, we’ll reach the technological singularity, when circuits will replace neuron clusters, and we’ll all become machines, frozen in time.
Maybe we’re the first generation of immortal teenagers.
How scary is that thought?
Here’s a webcomic from the wonderful SUBNORMALITY illustrating my existential angst better than I ever could:
And here’s a picture of Rooney Mara, who’s like, beautiful.