Adulting is in the Details
I was a huge nerd when I was a kid. And not a “cool” nerd that was up on all the hot video games—a full nerdy nerd complete with glasses, a love of Star Wars, and a deep obsession with reading, particularly fantasy novels. The more fanciful the better.
There was one particular series I could not get enough of, The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. A quick recap for you cool kids: these four books follow Alanna of Trebond, a young girl that pretends to be a boy so she can train to be a knight. She befriends the prince, becomes a wicked swordsman, catches the eyes of the gods, and has many a grand adventure in the magical kingdom of Tortall. In summary, the best books ever.
Having watched every show on Netflix (thanks Covid), I recently decided to revisit my old friend the Lioness. It was a very strange experience. On one hand, I had so much fun immersing myself in that magical world again. But I was also struck by how very “young adult” the books are.
Besides the fact that they’re like, 300 pages and I read all four of them in a weekend, the story moved so quickly. It was as if the author wrote a full novel and then at the last minute decided to switch it to a series for young readers by deleting most of the dialogue, exposition, and description. Almost all of the details were missing—scenic and character descriptions were less than a sentence and major plot points happened three to a page.
It got me thinking, isn’t that true of life, too? Young adult books and young adult lives are detail-free worlds where things seem to quickly happen as if by magic, while adult books and adult lives are all about the details.
When you were a kid, did you think about how the toilet paper gets refilled? No, you just wiped and moved on. Did you wonder about how your parents always knew what to make for dinner, or how there were always Gushers in the pantry? Nope, it was all eating. Were you curious about your friend’s inner thoughts or reasoning behind decisions? Hell no! You just took your turn at Super Mario and laughed at the toadstools.
But now, in your adulting years? It’s all details, all day. Now you have to remember to pick up the toilet paper, decide what to have for dinner, and actually go and buy the groceries. You sit and chat with your friends about feelings and thoughts over cheese plates and rich Merlots. Conference calls, dinner dates, emails, tax returns, receipts, taking pills, walking the dog, calling grandma—adult lives are full of details.
I cannot tell a lie: while I had a wonderful time pretending to be a kid again in a simple world with magic cats, no responsibilities, and no details, I actually prefer being an adult.
Sure, the minutia can get annoying sometimes, but there is a deep satisfaction to be had and magnificent beauty to be found in those details.
It’s okay to be nostalgic for simple childhood and take a mini vacation in an old favorite story, but at the end of the day, adulting is worth the detail.