Emerging Adulthood According to Paramore: A Reflection on Community

Ain’t it fun living in the real world?

When I first heard Paramore’s recent hit “Ain’t It Fun” come on the car radio, I turned up the volume, rolled down the window, and decided within 3 minutes that this was an apt anthem for emerging adulthood (the age range technically from about 18-25 that I write about periodically). Energetic sound: check. Confident, vaguely rebellious lyrics: check. Yep, #winning.

But the more I heard the song, the more I realized it asks some sobering questions that paint a NOT-so-fun picture of emerging adult.

What are you gonna do when the world don’t orbit around you?

Emerging adult problem: narcissism. We are, after all, the “me, me, me generation,” complete with our iPhones and selfies. Stereotype aside, it is genuinely difficult to transition from big fish in a small pond (e.g. senior in college) to little fish in a big pond (e.g. professional in the “real world”). We can have a pretty high opinion of ourselves and feel very uncomfortable when others don’t seem to share that opinion.

Emerging Adult solution: humility. That virtuous but vague term. What does it actually look like? It looks like asking my boss a question, telling my mom I’m sorry, changing my schedule a bit for a friend who needs help, maybe praying the litany of humility from time to time and letting its piercing words punch me in the gut. When the world don’t orbit me, I can reconcile with others, learn from others, serve others,

Ain’t it good being all alone (chorus 1)? Ain’t it good being on your own (chorus 2)? 

Emerging adult problem: loneliness — or shallowness in the relationships we do have. We’re used to having communities of similarly-aged comrades practically present themselves on a silver platter — from daycare to dormitories, Girl Scouts to Greek life, friends have always been available. But, eventually, that becomes no longer the case. For a while, the independence can be exciting and we tell Paramore “Heck, yes, it’s good being on my own!” But, if we’re not careful, alone-ness starts to look like loneliness.

Emerging Adult solution: community. Community that doesn’t just happen on its own (despite my desire for things to grow “organically”). Community that comes from the same word roots as communication. Community that picks up the phone, invites, initiates…insists that, contrary to popular belief, it ain’t so good being all alone.

If you’re an emerging adult (or work with emerging adults), how do you build humility and community?

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