How To: Grow Up

A whippersnapper’s guide to being washed up

Sam Johnson

More stories from Sam Johnson

How to: summer
May 14, 2022
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Before our oasis arrives, I have some tips to ensure your summer is as enjoyable as possible.

Let’s face it, we’re getting older. As a 22-year-old college student preparing to enter the ‘adult’ world, I’m going to ramble about aging.

I’m a little hypersensitive to my aging, probably due to the fact that I’ve spent over half a decade in childcare.

When I was sixteen I was a legend to my work kids. All the cool stuff they were into, I had known about for months. Fortnite, Vine compilations, fidget spinners, I was way ahead of your average 8-year-old on all of it, and they loved me for it.

But gradually, that stopped happening. It started out with the small stuff. I hadn’t heard of the rappers they talk about, I couldn’t tell what their beloved graphic tees were a reference to, I had no idea what a ‘JoJo Siwa’ was.

Once I realized this, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, not being into the same things as third-graders seemed like a good thing, Among Us was overrated anyway. On the other hand, it was the end of an era.

This was a few years ago, ever since, it’s gotten far worse. It’s no longer the inconsequential nonsense that I’m behind the times on, it’s stuff I still think is cool.

I’m several years older than most NBA draftees, which means I may never make it to the league. I might’ve had a chance at overcoming my terrible physical condition, bad knee and single-digit vertical jump, but I can’t overcome father time.

I never got into Tik Tok. Not in a cool, hipster against the grain kind of way. I didn’t purposefully avoid the status quo to further solidify my position as a rugged, mysterious outsider. 

No, I didn’t get into Tik Tok because I downloaded it, almost immediately decided it seemed overly confusing and deleted it. Like a decrepit old man.

Some good has come of it, though.

I have an appreciation for good-smelling hand soap. 

A youngster would simply wash their hands — or pretend to, at least — and get back to being awesome. Now, as a geriatric young man, I find it delightful when a soap contains a creative combination of fruits and spices that make my hands smell delicious.

For Christmas, I got a couple of posters. The teenage me would’ve tacked them to the wall, not even notice if they’re crooked and stood idly by as they ripped, bent and curled until I threw them away. 

This time, like a geezer, I went frame-shopping at Michaels, then framed them so I can cherish those thoughtful gifts for years to come.

Now I’m not saying I’m old. Obviously, I’m still very young compared to the vast majority of people. But 22 is the first age that young people don’t call young. 16-year-olds look at anyone 21 or younger as one of them. But a 22-year-old? That’s an adult.

Also, When I say old, I mean culturally rather than physically. My bad knee can’t predict when it’s going to rain, my hair isn’t going gray and I don’t drink prune juice. I’m just not cool anymore.

While it is bittersweet, I think I’m going to lean into it. I’m going to start reading James Patterson novels, watching Dr. Phil and exclusively sitting in recliners and rocking chairs.

Who knows? I might even join a shuffleboard league.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected]