"What exactly does it mean to grow up?"
Modern society fails us in a lot of ways, but one particular way that frustrates me to no end is that we've blurred the line between childhood and adulthood.
We all know the kid who was never really allowed to be a child...
The one who had such strict rules of behavior placed on them, that they developed an aversion to being playful, having fun, and even experiencing joy.
We also know adults who have never really grown up...
These are adults who lack emotional maturity, independence, and self-responsibility. Sometimes they still live at home with their parents as though they were still teenagers, waiting to be kicked out of the nest.
The Critical Transition from Child to Adult
Everyone has their own rate of maturity. There isn't a clear, specific age at which someone is fully physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually mature.
However- in a healthy developmental process, there is a healthy range in which this transition should naturally occur, probably between 15 and 20 years of age. A person who is transitioning well outside of this range is probably in a situation that isn't healthy for anyone...
A 10-year-old child being pushed into the role of an adult is likely to be quite traumatic for them.
A 40-year-old living with his parents, with no job, playing video games all day, needs a reality check.
A caterpillar should not stay a caterpillar forever. It was always designed to become a butterfly.
Some cultures, like Jewish culture, have very clear delineations between childhood and adulthood which are marked with coming-of-age ceremonies like the barmitzvah and batmitzvah.
Unfortunately, very few societies today make this a thing, and here's why that matters...
Your Perspective Changes, When you Enter Adulthood
This coming-of-age point is crucial, because several major things change as you cross the line into adulthood.
Internally, a few switches need to flip in your head-
- Complete acceptance of your childhood. You got what you got. School is over, you've graduated, and it's time to adult now.
- Complete autonomy. You don't need anyone's permission or approval for anything now. Make your own decisions.
- Complete self-responsibility. Your future is yours to create, and what you create is entirely up to you. If nothing is happening, that's on you too.
Society's Perspective of You Changes Too
Outside of you, in your social world, a lot of things change too.
The reason coming-of-age ceremonies are a major social event is that they represent a very significant change both for that person, and for society.
- This includes a clear message from your parents that they are no longer your parents, in the same way. Your decisions are your own now. Their role is more of a mentor now, if anything.
- It also includes a clear expectation from your society. You are now an adult, and have all of the perks and responsibilities of being one.
When other people can't decide if you're a child or an adult, they won't know how to treat you- and that impacts how you see yourself in big ways.
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lost the de-nesting experience.
Life's become too comfortable