My friends, we have arrived in that most restrictive and freedom-free period in our lives where the societal judgement is at its peak and no decision we make is free from the sarcastic barbs of popular opinion. Everything, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, is deemed worthy or unworthy by a jury of our equally hideous peers, hidden behind glowing monitors and secret crotch tablets that they try to hide from the police while speeding off to work to surf the internet. The days of discovery are over, and the days of cultural abandonment are not quite upon us. We are adults. And if we don’t act like it, we will get a “look.”
Young children do not have to worry about most of their choices, because they do not know any better. “My mom made me wear this,” is a totally acceptable answer, even up until the age of 18, and while you will be mocked mercilessly regardless, there is still a tacit understanding that it is not “you.” It is not your fault. As young adults you are likewise afforded a bit of leeway as you go out to discover yourself. Try a stupid haricut, wear something ridiculous, be vegan for six months, it’s all good! Just be sure that you have it all figured out by the time you hit 30. And there is certainly no excuse for a 40-year-old to color outside the lines. After all, they have had plenty of time to get it together.
There is also a day that will come when no one will care any longer about you, or what are you doing. Conveniently, this comes at precisely the same moment that you will also stop caring. You will say whatever you want to people, especially waiters, and you will wear gigantic hats and neon colors and who the hell is going to say anything to you? You are retired! You do not give a flying fig because there just aren’t enough hours left in the day to be concerned with what other people are thinking about you. I look forward to this day. Only 27 more years until retirement! Huh. Actually, that sounds terrifyingly close. I think I will retire at 70 instead maybe, but still stop caring at 65. You all have that person in your office, right? The one who is retired in attitude only?
But today, no, today I am an adult. I am old enough to know better, but I am young enough to care. I don’t want to walk out into the world looking stupid. A few months ago “they” released a survey telling men what to stop wearing once they hit 40. This is bad news for me. I am almost 40. I am wearing white socks. Do I need to throw them away? Can I recycle them? Is there some sort of donation center where I can get these socks to a younger man who can still wear them? Maybe a stylish 32-year-old with cold feet? I can’t wait until I’m old and can put my socks back on again as a big middle finger to the establishment.
I am also wearing cargo shorts. I love cargo shorts. Does this make me a bad person? Can I go out in public like this? I am not 40 yet, so can I wear them? No, wait, dads were recently told to stop wearing cargo shorts. They are lame, apparently. But then, where will I put all my stuff without the pockets? Should I get a murse? Are those lame too? Society! Tell me what to do while I still care!
Uh oh. Wait. Something bad is happening. I am ceasing to care too early! This will be bad for my social life and probably my career as well. No one will like me or want to be around me. I do not eat trendy things. I think kombucha is the most vile drink on the face of the earth. I don’t even like coffee! I only go to Starbucks to meet people! I am going to be judged! How do I start caring again! I am 32 years away from retirement! Huh. Still too close. Perhaps I can push it to 72? Anyway, I am in a bit of a bind. Because I never got old enough to know better, and I can’t seem to muster up the energy to care about what Buzzfeed thinks of me. Oh well. Guess I’ll go and be happy instead. Where’s my giant hat?