I can vote, I can work for longer than five hours without taking a break, and I can drive past eleven o’clock at night. What am I?
Legally, I am an eighteen-year old adult. In reality, I am realizing that although I carry the legal status, I am not treated as an adult in a social or educational setting, which is fitting. Half of me expected to suddenly fit the title of “adult” after my eighteenth birthday, but I’ve now come to understand that this is not the case. A person’s emotional maturity far outweighs his or her physical age in regards to being treated as an adult.
The term “adult” may be attached to a specific age, but most eighteen year olds do not live up to this title. We are, for the most part, still high school students that are subordinate to the staff of our school. Our age does not elevate us to a more important standing; most teachers probably do not even know when a student’s birthday comes and goes. Therefore, we remain on the same standing throughout high school. We are students, not adults.
So when do we earn the title of “adult”?
The answer may vary for each person, because being considered a certified adult comes with time and experience. Students in high school are not often referred to as adults, but a student at university may be because of the experience it took to get there. Also, living on their own in a dormitory is a huge step towards adult status. Adults, in general, are not dependent on parents or guardians, so if they are living on their own in a dormitory they might be referred to as adults.
But still, the gray area persists. Most university students have parents or guardians helping them pay to attend said university, so can we call them truly independent? Or does the simple fact that, if they are on-campus students, they no longer live at home with their parents or guardians qualifies them to be an adult?
I believe that to be an adult, someone must be fully independent. They must have their own income to support themselves in relation to food, shelter, and basic necessities.
I obviously do not qualify. In the classroom, I embrace the role of a student. At work, I embrace the role as one of the younger employees. At home, I embrace the role as the youngest daughter and sister.
Embodying adulthood does not equate to age. Emotional maturity, which comes with the hard-wrought experiences of life, means much more to achieve what truly accompanies adulthood; respect and independence.