‘The Martian’ begins by showing a manned mission to Mars. The story truly begins when a storm hits the base camp, and threatens the integrity of the spacecraft. One of the crew members, Mark Watney, is blown away in the storm and assumed to be dead. The remaining crew launches off from the planet, to return to safety. Left for dead 34 million miles from home, Mark’s adverse situation, coupled with his determination to live, force him to go beyond what was expected of him as he worked to prolong his survival.
The movie draws several parallels to the themes of adulting that we examined in class. Most importantly, it drew my attention to a catalyst for adulting: necessity. In the case of the movie, adulting, in the form of increased maturity, took place in Mark only when he was left with insufficient means to survive the 4 years it would take for the next team to get to mars. He repurposed all the equipment he could gather, and managed to establish a potato farm to prolong his survival. His journey was similar to that of an adolescent leaving the safety of home. In my personal experience, I saw this during my mandatory military service. Along with my peers, I had to leave home and was thrown into the adversity of the armed forces. My initial months of this experience was when I noticed how my peers had changed, as they were forced to mature and toughen up, or suffer severe consequences. Adulting, be it in the form of maturity or otherwise, comes only when it is most needed.
Beyond that, like Mark’s journey in the movie, adulting is a journey of trial and error. Mark made some major strides, which the NASA agents back on earth would never have expected of him. However, success came only through trial and error. In certain cases, such as the hydrogen explosion, he could even have lost his life. Adulting is, similarly, a matter of trial and error. As adolescents are exposed to new environments, they learn to adapt, and understand what is expected of them through a cycle of making mistakes and then corrections. College is a prime example of this. For instance, during job searches, students may blunder about and eventually understand what is expected of them in terms of skills, behavior or even attire (perhaps adulting is as much about following convention as it is about actual increases in maturity.) What adulting actually is, is debatable, but there is no dispute that it is a messy process of trial and error.
‘The Martian’ explored themes of adulting, outside of the usual setting for the topic. It was not set in a college, or a military base. It didn’t even star an adolescent character. In doing this, it drew focus away from adulting being just about age and explored themes that may be of much greater importance.