Irresponsibility: Getting it out of our system

Published April 7, 2012, in MSUM’s, The Advocate

There’s an excuse that floats through the atmosphere and enters into everyone’s lungs. People breathe it in without a second thought and don’t even consider buying an air filter – a purification system for the pollution they’re absorbing by the minute.

We tell ourselves lies and find ways to justify things we may initially question but want to do. The idea that everyone is entitled to their own wild-child stage in life is an excuse society has given everyone – a free pass to act irresponsibly for a few, or many, years. Many have been led to believe that most young adults have to go through a stage like this in order to “get it out of their system.” We are, in fact, expected to behave stereotypically – “like a college student.”

That is nothing but an excuse our culture has fabricated over the years. However, I can imagine a lot of people are happy about this freebie to rebel against responsibility and good judgment. Let’s keep in mind that the workplace is not as lenient as our culture may be.

It’s not like I’ve never done anything stupid, but everyone’s consideration varies when it comes to what “stupid” really entails. To one person, doing something “stupid” can mean leaving your apartment without a jacket when it’s raining, while doing something “stupid” to another can mean getting caught drinking and driving (with an emphasis on the “getting caught” part). Acting reckless for one’s enjoyment is expected, but the realization that these actions could endanger others or negatively impact one’s future is only a side thought – a warning posted in small print on the back of a product.

This has been designated as our time in life to find ourselves, though I think many are getting more lost in this process than found. We are taught to question everything – mainly rules, regulations and more conservative ways of thinking. We fear agreeing with anyone over 55, unless, of course, they are notorious for their edgier ways of thinking (or if they’re one of your professors).

Though everyone is encouraged to question everything, we are not urged to question the idea of questioning everything, or questioning society’s moral looseness. It’s cool to question why we shouldn’t be able to do whatever we want. It’s cool to question those who are in our way on our mission toward living our lives and doing whatever we want. Doing whatever we want – isn’t that what life is all about?

Everyone is told to live in “the now,” which can be a wonderful thing, but most of the time it’s used to backup selfish and momentary desires. Monitoring our actions because of our consideration for how current decisions could impact our futures is stale and crusty to many young “adults.” In no way am I inferring we shouldn’t have a sense of adventure (not in the least), but excitement and stupidity are two different things, though many make the mistake of bundling them in the same package. They don’t realize you can have one without the other.

The youth of the world often complain about mistreatment and disrespect from their elders (I know I have). They want to be treated as equals and adults, yet, at the same time, they want to do whatever they want. It’s almost as if they’ve been stuck in the bubble of adolescence for more years than initially expected.

What media has been allowed to present plays one of the biggest roles in the molding of culture. The other? Family. If we continue to disregard responsibility and morals (yes, I said morals), we shouldn’t be surprised when 6 year olds are telling us off and 4 year olds are swearing at us – when kids have no respect because they’ve seen so little displayed.

Regarding only yourself on your journey through life leads a lonely path, though you may have many followers desiring to tread that same road. It may seem exciting at first, but then that little nagging feeling starts festering in your brain when you’re alone.

Only emptiness can be found if you continue to live your life the way society expects you to in a world of low expectations. This may sound like a message you’d find in a fortune cookie, but sometimes even manufactured phrases can hold a grain of truth. Remember that the next time you read a Hallmark card.

BY MEGHAN FEIR

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