When do we become adults? The law says we become adults when we hit 18 but I’ve never really given that much credit. Most of us turn 18 before we get our diplomas; that means we’re adults before we even finish High School, which is essentially the training ground for college where advisors and staff will more or less treat us like children incapable of making decisions on our own. We aren’t handed the ‘You’ve-Got-This’ baton until we’ve cleared the hurdle of general education.
There are others that say 21 is the real defining age of adulthood. We can drink alcohol legally at 21. I never made any horrific decisions while drunk but I don’t think 21 is a very good qualifier for adulthood either. In fact I think waiting until later in life to experience alcohol causes a person to make some pretty horrible, if not childishly juvenile, decisions. There is something about people who are repressed that really know how to turn a new experience into something much, much more dramatic.
I know, it’s when we get our first jobs! No, that doesn’t seem to be it. The first time we hit the work force we face training, fitting in to a new work environment, and playing catch up to look as knowledgable as possible. We could become the star of a job until we face some problem we were never full trained in or just don’t know how to handle and then, pending success or failure, we are looked down on once again as ‘that new young person.’
I figured moving to a third world country for two years would make me an adult, I certainly feel adult-ish, but one reunion back with some old family members and friends does the trick of bringing back the High School persona. I am about to leave for yet another country and I’ve started getting emails from various family members that want to give me advice on what to do and a series of questions on whether or not I fully understand what I am getting myself into. It’s exceptionally frustrating when you’ve survived the stress and integration of living in a third world, survived the invasion of a bigger country, and survived a midnight evacuation in pure silence, only to have people question whether or not you can make decisions for yourself.
Maybe the technical term of what it means to be an adult is completely dependent on your current age, as if there is a block of time that moves with you, so if you aren’t in that window for that specific person then you never will gain that title of ‘Adult.’ That’s the understanding of what being an ‘Adult’ means to me. Well, partly. I’ve seen the toxicity that this ‘block’ thinking has on relationships and I’m hoping to do one better – If you’ve ever made any serious decision, just one, then you are an adult, because to me that is where it starts. It is about accountability and hard work, and putting yourself out there to face it all. The second you make a decision that will impact the lives of other people you’ve taken some pretty big ‘adult’ steps.