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Is Adulthood Defined by Age?

Image+courtesy+of+SCA+Svenska+Cellulosa+Aktiebolaget+on+Flickr%2C+labeled+for+reuse+under+Wikimedia+Commons
Image courtesy of SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget on Flickr, labeled for reuse under Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget on Flickr, labeled for reuse under Wikimedia Commons

Zoran Ivanovich

Zoran Ivanovich

Image courtesy of SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget on Flickr, labeled for reuse under Wikimedia Commons

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In America, you are allowed to marry someone, with parental consent, at the age of 16, legally vote at 18, and drink and purchase alcohol at the age of 21. For some, reaching one of these ages is what defines a person as an adult. However, which of these ages, if any, really make you an adult? The answer? None of the above.

Turning a certain age, does not automatically mean you are an adult. Adults have responsibilities that require maturity; turning a certain age does not automatically mean you can deal with responsibilities and develop maturity at the same time. A 21 year old is assumed to be old enough to purchase and drink alcohol. However, that does not mean they will always follow the rules and drink responsibly.

Does age really define who is an adult? Adults need to be financially, physically, emotionally, and mentally responsible for themselves. Adults have a lot of responsibility such as paying bills, and if they have a family, paying for the necessities of their children. College is where a lot of people start growing more mature and responsible. Many in college will have to work to pay for their tuition, food, books, etc. while still having to go to school and doing homework. It’s their first life experience without their parents constantly doing everything for them.

Although people experience situations forcing them to change their innocent and careless mentality to a more careful and wise one, others lack the experience and assume their age marks their “adulthood.” Next year, I will be turning 18 years old (meaning I’ll be a legal adult), but I feel nowhere near prepared to be an adult. In some cultures, there is a rite of passage. A rite of passage is turning a certain age and suddenly become an “adult,” similar to America’s legal rites of passage. In the Jewish religion, the rite of passage is celebrated with the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah. A Bar/Bat Mitzvah translates to the “son and daughter of the commandment” (http://www.reformjudaism.org/bar-and-bat-mitzvah). It is a ceremony celebrating the recognition that a child is now a young adult. The ceremony takes place around the age of puberty (typically 12 or 13 years of age). The Jewish Bar/Bat Mitzvah has a Hispanic counterpart: the “Quinceañera.” A quinceañera is celebrated when a girl reaches the age of fifteen and is now considered a young woman. I had a quinceñera about two years and although I felt like the ceremony made me feel older, I still did not feel like a young woman. I knew deep down I was still a child even though I may look like a woman now.

You’re not an adult just because you recently turn 18. In order to be an adult you have to be mature and able to handle responsibility on your own.

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Is Adulthood Defined by Age?