I must admit, I love being an adult. I love the freedom involved. I love having my own money and getting to decide how I get to spend it. I love that I don’t have to answer to authority figures I didn’t choose. If a boss was giving me static at a job, I could always look for a different job. If a landlord was giving me a hard time, I always had the option of moving to a different place. I love that I can do things like vote and go to casinos. I enjoy that I don’t have to feel guilty for expressing my opinions and having my likes and dislikes. I like that I can read whatever I want. I love having privacy. I enjoy not getting yelled at for trivial things like when I was in school or living with my parents. I like the fact that I can avoid people who give me too much static. When you are in school, you just can’t avoid bullies or sadistic teachers. Sure I’ve had bosses and coworkers who were jerks and whiners, but at least I had the option of finding another job if I didn’t connect with said bosses or coworkers. Changing schools is a lot tougher.
Even though I have been living with schizophrenia since at least age seventeen, I have found that it is getting easier to work around it the older I get. The bad periods don’t last nearly as long nor are as intense as they were in my early twenties. In my late 30s, I have come to the realization that I don’t have to be defined by what job I have or if I have a wife and kids or not. I am not my job. I am not less of a human being because I am not married. Sure I still deal with people that tell me “mental illness is fake” or that “you’re not a real man.” But as an adult it is much easier to blow those jerks and losers off and ignore them. You think I’m faking mental illness, then screw you. It’s not my job to meet your standards. It is so much easier to not be bothered by criticism as a 36 year old than when I was 21. I just hope that the older I get, the symptoms will become even less severe and I will care even less about naysayers and idiots.
I still isolate a lot and avoid socializing with my complex mates. But I think I’m more mentally stable because of said lack of socializing. When I was a kid people used to tell me I was being “anti-social” and had “attitude problems” because I didn’t like going to high school sporting events and county fairs. There really wasn’t much to do in my farming village besides school events, church activities, and county fairs. There was only one movie theatre in a fifty mile radius from my hometown. I didn’t enjoy watching people throw balls around much as a kid. As an adult I really don’t have to feel guilty for not watching such things. I do watch some college football and basketball tournaments just to give myself something to talk about with other people. Most people still don’t like discussing science and technology in casual conversations. But I haven’t been to any sporting events in person besides minor league baseball games in almost five years. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty or anti-social because of it. And as an adult I have these options. That’s more than I had as a kid.
I don’t really understand people who are nostalgic about their youths or the past. I might be a little nostalgic about growing up if I had more friends, was bullied less, and wasn’t so much of a social misfit in my school. I am kind of nostalgic about my college years because I knew lots of smart people, had lots of interesting conversations, could do things at the spur of the moment with no planning, could study what I felt like studying, and had the legal rights and responsibilities of adulthood. College was much more stimulating and enjoyable than grade school or high school. Sure I never got to use my degree in a job, but I blame the schizophrenia for that completely. And I am grateful everyday I can keep in contact with old friends through Facebook.
I love living in the here and now of May 2017. Sure getting to this point was rough dealing with schizophrenia for almost twenty years. Sure my physical health took a beating because my mental illness and the side effects of the psych medications. But after twenty years of schizophrenia I have figured out how to deal with bad days and psychotic breaks. I have also learned how to enjoy the small things of life more than many of my mentally stable friends and family. Happiness for me is watching a sunset, or eating chicken wings at a sports bar with college friends, or seeing my niece and nephews for a few hours, or talking with my parents about history or technology, or reading internet sites like futurism.com or bloomberg.com about trends in science and current events. I had my ups and downs with schizophrenia. I had many breakdowns when I took a lot of grief out on my parents and friends. Fortunately those breakdowns are getting less severe and shorter as I age. I have had to go to the mental hospital twice. But both times I was self committed and my longest stay was one week. I may not be able to hold a forty hour a week job, but at least I tried several different lines of work before I came to the conclusion that traditional employment wasn’t in my future. And it’s not shameful to not hold a full time job, especially if you have a disability or find other outlets to give back to people. I can still drive a car, I can still buy my own groceries, pick up my medications, keep appointments, and more or less live on my own even with mental illness. Some people can’t claim that. In short I love being an adult. And I wouldn’t want to go back to my youth, even though I had more friends and better health in college. Being an adult rocks. It really does.