Growing Up as According to John Stuart Mill

…many who begin with youthful enthusiasm for everything noble, as they advance in years sink into indolence and selfishness.

Capacity for the nobler feelings is in most natures a tender plant, easily killed, not only by hostile influences, but by mere want of sustenance; and in the majority of young persons it speedily dies away if the occupations to which their position in life has devoted them, and the society into which it has thrown them, are not favourable to keeping that higher capacity in exercise.

But he can learn to bear its imperfections.

John Stuart Mill has just spoken to me via a seminar reading…how unlikely!

Nowadays conversations with coursemates, choirmates, flatmates, housemates all revolve around the scary prospect of leaving university, getting a job, getting a real life where you no longer have the kind of freedom that is unique to university life: independent enough to live and grow away from prying parental eyes, but with some leeway to make mistakes because you are, after all, a student (and therefore, by default, young).

(18 is when it becomes legal for you to make ‘mistakes’. 21 is when you actually have to start becoming accountable for them. This is the conclusion I have arrived at after having attended so many birthdays over January and February.)

I know perhaps it is rather premature to say, all gung-ho, that I am ready for adulthood – I am most probably not, contrary to what I feel – but the least I can say is that I am ready to start learning how to bear all the imperfections that adult life will hurl at me.


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