There was no one hanging around graduation who came up and handed me a small box saying “here’s all the secret knowledge about living that will need now that you have become an adult”. There were no classes offered to teach me how to be a grown-up. No invitations to join the institution of adulthood ever came. No opportunity to have the covert rules and rituals revealed was offered. There was never a form to fill out so I could enlist to be an adult.
I recall being little and wanting to be bigger. My memory is clear of being in elementary school wanting to be in high school. Becoming sixteen wishing I was twenty-one has not been forgotten. All I know is somewhere between then and now apparently I became an adult… well, sort of… mostly. What I do know is there’s no test, sudden blinding light of wisdom or tangible event that signified my transition.
Here’s some perspective on “when a person becomes an adult” from teenagers on stayteen.org: link
- I will know that I am an adult when I can live on my own, when I am fully capable of surviving independently. I will no longer depend on shelter, food, transportation, and money from my parents.
- I’ll really know that I’m an adult when I find my passion in life. As you get older you start to see what you are really interested on. Once you hit high school and you have a career that really calls your attention, that’s when I think you are mature because you have a future plan ahead of you, you are thinking college, and you know that you are doing the right decision.
- I have no idea how I’ll know I’m really an adult. I asked my friends around me when they all thought they would feel like a grown up and they all said “I don’t think you can ever stop growing,” “You may get old but you never stop growing spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.”
- For the most part I believe there are no adults…that everyone is not always responsible or mature.
- I think someone is truly an adult when they can make a mistake, take credit for it and work to fix the mistake you made.
There’s some truth in what the teens said, but they are expressing a viewpoint about what they have no knowledge of, so I moved on to facts and figures. Stats from Larry Nelson of Brigham Young University published in USA Today show parents and students 18 to 25 years old don’t always agree on what it takes to be considered a grown-up.
Driving a car safely and close to the speed limit
• Students: 49%
• Dads: 75%
• Moms: 81%
Avoid becoming drunk
• Students: 43%
• Dads: 60%
• Moms: 70%
Settled into long-term career
• Students: 53%
• Dads: 31%
• Moms: 39%
Becoming financially independent from parents
• Students: 93%
• Dads: 76%
• Moms: 82%
So the mystery remains. An answer is an enigma. I really don’t know when I became “mostly” an adult. Please note the term “mostly”, because moving completely past youth has proved to be impossible. I know, I tried. And now I am grateful for not succeeding.
For the spark of a child that resides within and for the fragment of a teenager that remains, I am grateful. Those remnants help me to see I did not become something else when I moved (mostly) out of childhood and became an adult. Rather I just became more of what I already was.
Everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.