The Age of Irresponsibility

Eighteen years old, I’m caught in a strange predicament. Considered an adult by the government, only not by society. Forced to make decisions that will affect my career and the rest of my life, but not allowed to consume alcohol or rent a hotel room or test-drive a car. During youth, we experience this duality of responsibility which we can choose to detest, exploit, or ignore.

During school or at work, I find myself assuming a very adult role. I dress for the part, sometimes even donning a tie, tucking in my button-down shirt, combing my hair. I speak in even, professional tones and answer the phone with the same greeting each time. There is an adult-like process to work, where we can fall into routines that mimic what we’ve seen others do, what we’ve seen on television, read in books. We act like what we think adults act like just like the generations before us did, never realizing we will never truly leave childhood, only heap more responsibility upon ourselves without actually feeling any more mature.

But right now school is months away, college looms in the distance of the coming autumn, and I’m wading in the shallow waters of summer irresponsibility. Summer offers unlimited time where the demands of the adult world get bored and begin to leave you alone. Of course I still have to go into work, but that constitutes maybe 18 hours a week. Otherwise, we’re allowed to do what we like, when we like. I’m not on-call 24/7 at the Be-An-Adult Center.

So what do we do with this lack of responsibility? Stupid things, of course. We generally forget that in August, we will return to school, to classes, and for me, a higher level of schooling and classes. Nevertheless, we kill those brain cells like they’re alien invaders and we are mighty Hulks.

So that is what we live with. A balance of time spent pretending to be mature and time spent wasted on the internet. Or lounging by a pool. Which for me offers no real purpose because I’m not interested in a tan or anything. I am simply interested in the act of doing nothing. Absolutely nothing, like the silence that surrounds us when stress lowers its axe, too exhausted to continue hitting us in the calves.

And what we do with that time, when productivity does not insist upon itself, when all of our daily projects seem pointless, well, that’s important.

For me, I intend to write. I still do, though I haven’t done much this summer. I fell into summer like it was a pool of Jell-O, and I keep sinking, refusing to swim or struggle. Is that inherit laziness or does stress actually spurn creativity? Who knows? I even do not blog as much as I usually do when very busy. Now that my schedule is so free, I do it quite less!

Certainly, I will begin writing more fiction soon. This afternoon, maybe.

Yes, I tell myself. I will write something new this afternoon.

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About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on June 21, 2012, in Blogging, books, culture, Education, Government, Humor, personal, Teenagers, writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. There’s no one right way to be an adult. Even so, we’re all too willing to point at one another and claim, “You’re doing it wrong.” Hang in there; maybe you’ll be the one to figure it out for the rest of us!

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