Monday, June 30, 2008

Can I Grow Up Now?

How do you know you’re an adult? Is it an age? A job? A salary? An apartment? A student loan bill? A significant other? A child?
I use to think being an adult was an age. I thought once I turned 18 that would mean instant respect. And, that was partially true. I moved away from home, lived on my own, and learned a new city. Professors saw me as an adult, some of my friends started to see me as an adult, and I lived in a community where we all thought we were adults…even if we didn’t always act like them. Then I thought being 20 meant I was an adult. I thought, “Good, now no one can play the teenager card.” Then, I turned 21 and could legally do more things that only “adults” could get away with. But now, at 22 with a college degree, I think being an adult is about more than an age. It can’t just be an age because everyone has a different opinion on how age determines maturity. My Dad always joked that I wouldn’t be an adult to him until I was 25. Co-workers think I’m just a baby at 22. People who get married at 21 obviously feel they are adults (I hope…). A number doesn’t determine anything. It has nothing to do with a skill level, knowledge, life experiences, or relationships.
What constitutes an adult is the simple day to day things. It is being independent. I think an adult is determined by how much of your life you control - not in a control-freak way - but in a responsible for the day to day stuff way. It is about having your own bills to pay and paying them on time. It means owning a car. It is living in your own apartment, one you pay the rent for. It is having a student loan with your name on it. It is a full-time job, which starts by having a job at all. It is learning to trust your gut and make your own decisions. And yes, it is some part age, but only because with age comes experience, independence, mistakes, and lessons learns.
But then again, tonight on the phone my mom and I pointed out that I consider a microwave and fast food an appropriate meal, and things like Amish Friendship bread that takes 10 days to be ready to bake too much for me. One could argue that an adult would simply wait patiently for the bread and bake it. An adult should not be afraid of the oven or of time to wait.

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