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When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
- The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:11, The Holy Bible (King James Version)
I have only vaguely heard the name "Adam Carolla" before. I think he has featured in a number of articles over at Breitbart.com, but since I do not pay much attention to mainstream comedy and do not listen to all that many podcasts, the name is not overly familiar to me.
Nonetheless, Mr. Carolla has some sage advice to give to the nation's most recent college graduates:
It is vitally important that young people hear his advice about FEE-FEES and excuses, as often as possible.
The reality is that the world is a very harsh, uncaring, and difficult place to begin with. It is also a place of boundless opportunity, goodness, kindness, warmth, and human decency - but you have to look for these things, and you have to cultivate the skills needed to get the things that you want out of life.
This process of developing such skills used to be known as "growing up". Certainly that was the case during my parents' time, and it was the case when I came to adulthood. These days, however, in my sister's generation, the idea of taking responsibility for oneself, for owning up to one's own cock-ups, and learning from one's mistakes, appears to be a highly novel notion.
These days, it is "normal" for children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of twenty-six. It is "normal" for overgrown teenagers to go to coffee shops and order $9 "smashed avocado toast" for breakfast, and then sit around in them all day long taking advantage of the free wi-fi, while writing on their blogs about how "oppressed" they are and how "privileged" everyone else is.
(Yes, I am aware of the irony of a currently-unemployed chap in his early thirties writing such things on a blog. It should be remembered that I spent 11 long years in the consulting and banking sectors building up a highly independent lifestyle, and have had to do a lot of "growing up" myself in the last ten years. I know of what I write.)
Here is the reality that most college graduates these days do not seem to be told often enough:
ALMOST NOBODY BEYOND YOUR FAMILY AND CLOSEST FRIENDS CARES ABOUT YOU.
That really is all there is to it. Most people are highly self-interested and selfish - as they should be - and that means that when things go wrong for you (and, trust me, they absolutely will), most of the time you will be on your own.
This is not a bad thing.
The way that a child grows into an adult, and especially the way in which a boy grows into a man, is to face significant adversity, to experience a serious trial, and to apply his values, intelligence, wit, will, and physical strength to confront and overcome the situation directly.
The way that child stays a child is to run away from accepting complete personal responsibility for his situation and run toward Mummy, begging for relief and protection.
The reality that will hit every recent college graduate, especially those with liberal arts degrees in "MUH OPPRESSIONS" and "MUH FEELZ", is that they now have freedom.
However, as I have said many times before, and as all of my regular readers understand extremely well, freedom is NOT the right to live as you please, to say and do whatever you please.
Freedom is in fact the substitution of hard self-discipline and restraint for discipline and restraint imposed by others.
And that is what makes freedom so valuable, so precious. It cannot be given. It must be earned.
The maturation process from child to adult is the way in which that freedom is earned.
And the only way in which a child becomes an adult is to take on adult responsibilities.
Taking on responsibilities is not pleasant or fun, at least not at first. It is deeply intimidating, and indeed sometimes terrifying, to be responsible for someone or something other than yourself. It is hard to hear criticism from others, especially from those that you respect.
That criticism and the ensuing discomfort is vitally important to turning a prospective adult into an actual one.
There is a method of dealing with a child who tries something and fails. It basically involves telling the child, "Don't be disappointed, buddy! What matters is that you tried! And you tried really hard!! Congratulations on trying your best!!!"
That is actually a functional way to deal with a very young child - because such a child is literally incapable of performing higher functions. It is too small, too weak, too clumsy. There is nothing particularly wrong with praising a child just for trying - up to a point.
Where Western culture has gone spectacularly wrong, especially with the Millennial generation, is in pretending that trying is all that matters. Beyond that certain point described above - and it is different for every child, because some children embrace responsibility early and develop into sociosexual Alphas and Sigmas, while other children run away from it and develop into emotionally stunted Gammas - simply praising a child for "making an effort" is incredibly stupid and counterproductive.
In an adult, praising "effort" is downright idiotic. An adult must be held responsible for his or her own actions. The only way to deal with an adult who screws up is to say:
"You screwed up. Here is how and why you screwed up. This is how you fix it. Now GO FIX IT, and don't do it again - dumbass."
(The "dumbass" is optional, but having dealt with kids of my sister's age for a while now, I've come to believe that it is probably a necessary addendum.)
As for how a child can turn himself into a man - well, that is simple.
It comes down to internalising and accepting one fundamental, yet horribly painful and difficult, truth:
Everything in your life that is not the way you want it, is YOUR OWN FAULT.
Hey, I said it was simple. I never said it was easy.
There is nothing easy about growing up into an adult. It is stressful, painful, challenging, and at times terrifying. There will be times when you are completely alone and it seems as though the entire world is against you. There will be moments when life throws an absolute haymaker at you and knocks you flat on your arse.
At that point, a child will stay down, curled up into the foetal position and sobbing.
An adult takes the pain, gets back up, wipes the blood off his chin, looks his opponent in the eye, and very calmly says, "You hit like a little bitch."
These are the lessons which young people these days are not taught. These are the lessons that they will need to learn, the hard way, all over again. For it is an unalterable truth that the world cares not in the least what you think of it; this world merely cares how you react to it and how you shape your own reality.