If I’m not an adult, and you’re not an adult, where do we find one?
Has anyone figured out when you count as an adult? Have we come to a consensus on what boxes you need to check to be considered an adult? Depending on who you ask and the context of why you’re asking, the answer that you receive changes.
Look at the discrepancy experienced in the legal age between countries and even provinces. Provinces waiver between 18 and 19 years of age to be able to legally consume alcohol and other substances. Other places, like Germany, have their legal age as 16, while others, like the USA, have it at 21. Clearly the ability to consume these regulated substances can’t be an indicator of adulthood. All you need to do is drive a few hours into Alberta or Manitoba and you’d be an adult for a day before having that status revoked when you arrive back in Saskatchewan.
Should we then consider the age at which your brain stops developing? This possesses a different problem because there isn’t a hard and fast age determined for when this happens. It’s said that our brain should be done developing in our mid-to late-20’s. Great. There is no way for us to determine without ridiculous measurement who would be an adult at 24 or 28. This isn’t helpful either.
It makes sense to consider the amount of experience that someone has, right? If you’re full of experience, then you should be able to be considered an adult. This doesn’t seem like an outrageous claim to make. This probably leads to one of the biggest grey areas when it comes to deciding what experience should be considered and how much someone needs. Are we considering years of school or years of work experience? Do we count the paper route you had at 12 or your first full-time job after high school as the start of that experience? Are we considering the amount of practical life skills you might have? If you’re able to cook a meal and do a load of laundry, can you be an adult? Is it based on your income or if you’re living on your own? What about having something depending on you to watch out for its well-being and take care of it, whether it’s a sibling, child, or a pet? There are so many questions and things to consider and not a lot of answers that we can objectively give. Some areas may hold more weight than others to some people. The context of why someone may not be stronger in one area than another may play a role. There is too much to consider.
If we can’t decide what makes an adult, where am I supposed to find one? To some people I may appear like a semi-competent adult, but I don’t feel like it most days. I need to know what I’m looking for when on the hunt for an adultier adult. Being able to look to other people that appear to be more of an adult is extremely comforting when trying to maneuver through things. It’s difficult to feel like you can instruct anyone else on adult life when you still feel the compulsion to ask if you can use the washroom and don’t feel like you’ve made any kind of contribution to society. If crying into a coffee cup was the only requirement all of us would be set, but it feels like there should be so much more.
At what point are you arguably considered to be the most adult? Is this when you’re a senior or when you’re middle age? Is there a cap on being considered an adult before you’re written off as no longer being considered useful enough in that category? This is also a terrifyingly sad idea to me, but it’s one that can’t go ignored either. At some point you will no longer be up to date enough with the state of the world. Your mental and physical capacities will decline to the point where you will not be able to do the work that you were once able to complete with ease. At some point you will be labelled as the crazy old person and what you will have to say, regardless of how important it may be, will not be considered relevant anymore.
Where do you find someone who is considered an adult then? Do any of us ever consider ourselves to truly be adults? While trying to determine what this might look like, it appears to me like none of us ever feel as though we are truly an adult. Our hunt for an adultier adult will never be satisfied. There will always be reasons for someone to not consider themselves adult enough and for us to continue our hunt.
We will all just continue to fumble around and hope that nobody notices. The imposter syndrome will continue to rear its ugly head and we will continue to question our abilities to do the things. Regardless of if you’re trying to figure out how to do your taxes or are terrified to ask for ketchup at a restaurant, we’ve all got something that disqualifies us from adulthood. Stay strong out there, fellow fake adults.