I discovered this article published at The Cut while browsing Hacker News. I was immediately drawn to it, because one of the main examples it uses is ‘cosplaying’ adulthood while at kids’ sporting events.
There’s a few things to say about this, in my experience. The first is that status tends to be conferred by how good your kid is, no matter what your personality. Over and above that, personal traits — such as how funny you are — make a difference, as does how committed and logistically organised you are. And if you can’t manage that, you can always display appropriate wealth (sports kit, the car you drive). Crack all of this, and congrats! You’ve performed adulthood well.
I’m only being slightly facetious. The reason I can crack a wry smile is because it’s true, but also I don’t care that much because I’ve been through therapy. Knowing that it’s all a performance is very different to acting like any of it is important.
It’s impressive how much parents’ beliefs can seep in, especially the weird ones. As an adult, I’ve found myself often feeling out of place around my fellow parents, because parenthood, as it turns out, is a social environment where people usually want to model conventional behavior. While feeling like an interloper among the grown-ups might have felt hip and righteous in my dad’s day, it makes me feel like a tool. It does not make me feel like a “cool mom.” In the privacy of my own home, I’ve got plenty of competence, but once I’m around other parents — in particular, ones who have a take-charge attitude — I often feel as inept as a wayward teen.
The places I most reliably feel this way include: my kids’ sporting events (the other parents all seem to know each other, and they have such good sideline setups, whereas I am always sitting cross-legged on the ground absentmindedly offering my children water out of an old Sodastream bottle and toting their gear in a filthy, too-small canvas tote), parent-teacher meetings, and picking up my kids from their friends’ suburban houses with finished basements.
I’ve always assumed this was a problem unique to people who came from unconventional families, who never learned the finer points of blending in. But I’m beginning to wonder if everyone feels this way and that “the straight world,” or adulthood, as we call it nowadays, is in fact a total mirage. If we’re all cosplaying adulthood, who and where are the real adults?
Source: Adulthood Is a Mirage | The Cut