This past week, I found myself lounging on my couch, playing Pokémon, occasionally taking sips of beer, while simultaneously neglecting the mountain of laundry and pile of dishes in my sink. Occasionally, I’d take a break from slacking to leisurely job hunt or check in on my LinkedIn profile, only to turn around and play the new Super Smash Bros. for a straight hour.
Sometimes I’ll stop and think to myself how absurd these conflicting activities seem, “I’m 21, I should be dressed in a classy cardigan, sipping a fancy tea in a coffee shop and working furiously on my Macbook. Instead, I’m playing video games I’ve frequented since I was 10 and utterly neglecting my household chores.”
Times like these make me wonder, just what is an adult, and where does that put me?
As I made the leap over 18, I began to realize that there is no finite jump into adulthood. When I was growing up, I thought that the second you turned 18 and crept into your early 20s, adulthood just happened. You are no longer a kid, and you suddenly adapt this role of adulthood, the attitude that you see your mother, father and the people on TV enacting.
I looked at those in their early 20s as full-fledged adults, working on their degrees or at their jobs diligently to become successful in the real world. As I myself wandered into this territory, I realized my earlier thoughts couldn’t have been more wrong. While I still believe that many people at this age are very hardworking and dedicated individuals, I’ve also seen that those in their early 20s are more so stumbling around, trying to figure out what the hell they’re doing and where to find the free food.
I heard the phrase, “All adults are the same age.” I could have a conversation on the same level with a peer as I could with my professor in his 50s or my grandpa in his 80s. We are built by our experiences, which ultimately help us become more well-rounded and stable individuals in our own lives, but in our core, we don’t really deviate from what we were at 16 or 17. Sure, we’re more mature, but there isn’t a switch that simply goes off to convert you into “adult mode.”
So, why is there this expectation that we need to be totally immersed in adulthood at this phase in our lives? Is it because of the deemed legal age of 18? The last time I checked, you had to be 21 to drink legally, and it isn’t until 26 that you are required to leave your parents’ health insurance plan. Is there really anything wrong with me eating four freeze pops in a row while I prance around in cat slippers? It’s all about growth.
To me, adulthood seems to begin around 17 and gradually builds from there. Looking at dorm life, it seems more like a group of unsupervised high school students figuring out how college is supposed to work. Don’t get me wrong, I was the same way at that age. I didn’t know how anyone could possibly work 40 hours a week, and I struggled to get basic school assignments done between my part-time job and social life.
It’s about refining your youthful self into the best “adult version” it can be, and I anticipate that I will learn more about myself as each year of my life passes. For right now, I think I’m going to take a nap and put off some of my adult responsibilities until tomorrow.
Collegian Columnist Keegan Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keeganmw.