Arrested Development. Aka Crap! Big Week!

Well, it’s Saturday night, and you know what that means, right? If you guessed, “Matthew’s doing laundry!!” then congratulations!! You’re starting to figure out just how lame I am!

Anyway, I thought I’d take the hour necessary for my clothes to dry to ramble write about something that is becoming increasingly worrisome: I’m not going to be a teenager much longer.

This thought shouldn’t really trouble me. It’s not as if I’ve cared about doing “teenagery” things before.  “Alcohol?! Yuck! Where’s that hot chawcolate at?!” “Drugs?! You mean like my sinus infection medication?!” “Football? No way. TENNIS!!” “Sex?? EWWWWW!!” “Party? Will puppies be there?!”

As you can see, I’m a really fun d00d. But in all seriousness, I’m beginning to realize that I really went about “growing up” wrong. I haven’t appreciated the freedoms being this young offers. These are the years when doing something really crazy and just plain stupid isn’t extremely unacceptable. You can look back and think, “Well, I was 16! That’s the only excuse necessary to explain how much of an asshole I was!” But nope. I can honestly say that I haven’t done anything seriously reprehensible ever. Never been drunk (I’ve attempted and failed on a few occasions), never done anything really sleazy, never been pulled over by the police (I guess a Prius with a bumper sticker reading “I Love Otters” isn’t really seen as a threat).

The worst thing I’ve probably done involved 4th of July 2010, some friends, some marshmallows, trespassing at an elementary school, running away from a security guard, a high speed chase, and getting caught after the questionable decision of returning to the scene of the “crime.” I’ll save that story for my upcoming “Embarrassing Moments” post. Get ready!

I’d say all this really started to hit me in the months leading up Summer 2011. My best friend and I collaborated on a “To Do List” of activities for us to accomplish. Some of these “activities” definitely reflected our mutual desire to act as ridiculous as possible, since, you know, I’ve done nothing fun ever. For your enjoyment, here’s a few excerpts from that list:

  • MARSHMALLOW WAR! Buy Marshmallow gun. PAINT MASKS! (those words were in caps on the list. This is also one of the few things (minus the paint) that actually happened).
  • TEEPEE somebody’s house
  • Go to Justin Bieber concert (ha! #NeverSayNever)
  • Hey Arnold Marathon!
  • Drawing party/competition. WITH BLINDFOLDS!
  • Learn magic tricks and put on a show for all our “fans.”
  • “glow stick/rave party in someone’s yarrrrd. Dig it.”
  • Water balloon fight!! (Take a guess at which one’s my pile.)
  • GET ARRESTED!! By any means necessary. (but only for one night).

This list is a clear indication that I really wanted to be a stupid teenager for pretty much the first time in my life. Too bad most of that list wasn’t accomplished. Especially the getting arrested part. Tried hard for that one!

While I may not have aspired to do anything conventional teenagers valued (like having a life), that certainly doesn’t mean I’m ready for adulthood. I’d say the only “adult” thing about me is my work ethic and prioritization skills. I’m definitely not a procrastinator when it comes to getting school-related things done. Outside of my little academic bubble, well….not as commendable.

I recently read an article about arrested development, an idea that can be summed up as fearing or avoiding growing up.  “Escape is the enemy of responsibility.” This is the line that struck me the most. The author lists off a few indicators that correspond to this “escape” or arrested development. Here are a few of these indicators and how the apply back to me:

  • COMMITMENT: I’ve broken a few promises over the years, most minor, a few pretty bad. I promised my father last Thanksgiving that I would spend the day with him and his side of the family, but I decided to stay at home with my mother, the safer route.
  • COMPLETION: I’ve started and stopped something a few too many times, including, but not limited to, playing the piano and violin, playing soccer, baseball (not apologizing for that), I’ve left various volunteering positions just because I felt like it. Tennis, which has been one of my few constants, has been pushed aside. I always justify it with “All of that gets in the way of school! Can’t let anything distract me from that!!” Yikes.
  • CONSISTENCY: I’m alright on this one.
  • CONFRONTATION: This is a big one. I avoid confrontation more than anything else, to the point of hanging up on someone if the conversation starts going south, or literally jumping into my car and driving away if things aren’t going well at home. Which is often.
  • COURAGE: Well…just read my last post.
  • COMMUNICATION: see above.

There’s a few other indicators, but these are the ones that apply to me the most. So basically, when it comes to the qualities that matter in an adult, I’d say I posses about 29% of them.

I’ll focus a bit more on confrontation for the remainder of this post. This week I have to decide where I’m studying abroad. This is what I was looking forward to the most in the years leading up to college. Traveling is my favorite thing to do, so getting to do it for a whole semester sounded like the greatest thing ever. I had this idea that I’d be in Paris, learning French and becoming the most “cultured” person EVER in the history of the world. As I started becoming interested in international development, the developing world became my focus. Sorry, Paris. Right now I’ve narrowed it down to a few places in Africa (Uganda, Ghana, Madagascar, Senegal). After deciding on what college to go to, this is probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make. All these options have their appeal, and they’re obviously equally unconventional, and it’ll probably come down to which program has the most appropriate courses.

On top of this decision, I’m also starting my internship with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday. This is absolutely my dream internship, since working there in the future is what I’d love to potentially do. So getting to experience what that would be like now is really amazing. But, I’m starting to get panicky over it. I don’t know as much as I’d like about the agency or what I’ll be doing. Confidence, as I’ve mentioned, is not something I possess. I know I’ll feel overwhelmed and out of place, fearing that they’ll regret hiring me pretty soon after meeting me. So….crap.

Like most times when things start getting overwhelming for me at school, I run back home to Long Island for a few days. Since I’m so consistent and a fan of escaping, I’ll be going home next weekend. I’m hoping this will be good for me, to just decompress a bit. Regardless, at least my mother will be pleased.

So yeah. Turning 20? Not as excited about that as I had been previously. I need to get my act together. I can’t keep avoiding the important decisions. The years of being able to make excuses and getting away with stupidity are coming to an end.

There’s probably a reason why Finding Neverland is my favorite movie:

[I found out while writing this that Whitney Houston died. Oh my God. So unbelievably sad. Such a beautiful woman. What a shame.]

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