Here, There and Everywhere

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary offers several definitions for the word “adult,” the most relevant for this column being “fully-developed and mature” and “one that is adult; especially: a human being after an age (as 21) specified by law.”

As we grow up, becoming an “adult” is the ultimate goal: reaching that time in our lives when we can live free from parental restrictions and guidelines, making our own decisions (good or bad), and finally having the opportunity to really and truly express ourselves. But when is it that we reach this point, this defining moment?

Many believe that it occurs at the age of 18, when we are granted the right to vote, to join the military, to buy lottery tickets, when the term “minor” is lifted. However, most 18-year-olds still find themselves under their parents’ rules and commands well after this magical birthday.

So then maybe 21 is the lucky number, when the final social stigma, that of being legally able to purchase and consume alcohol, disappears. I myself recently celebrated this milestone, but I still do not feel like an “adult.” I definitely feel a sense of freedom, but not of being someone who is “fully developed” in the eyes of society. And you know what? I’m in no rush.

Being an “adult” means being completely responsible for everything in my life. I still have a semester and a half of college left, there is no way I am financially or emotionally ready to handle that. Therefore, I believe that the determination of being an “adult” should be done on a case-by-case basis.

Most of my friends, too, are willing to admit that they are nowhere near ready to be labeled as “adults.” They share the same fears that I do, especially since most of them will be graduating alongside me come May. However, there are those select few who seem to know exactly what they will be doing after that fateful, fast-approaching day and are completely comfortable taking up the mantle of “adult.”

It is those types of people who seem to be most likely to fall. Think about it. People who seem overly confident in their abilities, who allow themselves to be put under–and put on themselves–tremendous amounts of pressure, are always the ones who seem to struggle the most.

Take, for example, the overly-publicized case of Lindsay Lohan. A few years ago, she was heralded as one of the brightest young adult actors in the business, poised to continue on her success well into her years on “adulthood.”

Having been forced to grow-up and take responsibility for herself and her empire at a young age, barely 18, the original marker for adulthood, Lohan has cracked under the pressure in view of all those with Internet or cable.

While this may seem like an extreme case, take a minute and look around at the people who surround you. Your friend with the perfect GPA stays up most nights cramming, but insists that she has it all together, saying that she is an “adult,” that she can handle the workload. Your friend who goes out and lives la vida Lohan, partying until all hours of the night, because they are an “adult” and they can.

Many of these people have fallen into a sort of Neverland, where they seem to be grown-up and in control, but are really struggling to breathe and stay on top of it all.

To them, I say relax. College is supposed to be a time of finding and developing yourself, so that when the time comes you can slide easily into the role of fully-developed and mature–no quotations–adult.