How Could You Tell You Became an Adult?


In our modern American culture, we lack a unified ritual into adulthood. In many modern Latin American cultures, girls become women at their Quinceanera, 15th birthday. In some culture, a ritual of pain is involved. In America, nothing. In one of my favorite movies, Lars and the Real Girl, the main character asks his adult brother how to know you’ve become a man. The brother couldn’t give him a direct answer because there isn’t a rite into adulthood in our culture.

Although we don’t have set rituals, we all have experiences in which we know we’ve grown, and most adults can come fairly close to pinpointing a moment or two in which they became adults.

I feel I’ve grown tremendously in the past couple years. I want to share some of my experiences, and I want you to share some of yours so we can compare. I’m thinking we can find some kind of thread that binds our experiences. I’m not sure what that thread is – maybe it’s finding love, maybe it’s understanding something. I don’t know so I’m hoping you’ll help me find out.

I recognized major growth in myself during my last year of my undergraduate studies. For the first time in my life, I read all assigned readings, and my mind expanded tremendously. That was the first time I really was aware I was growing.

In the couple years since then, I’ve had tons of opportunity for growth. I’ve had major life changes and challenges. I’ve overcome a lot, and lots of things have lead to my becoming an adult, but one specific moment really stands out as being a pivot point for my coming of age.

It was a few months ago. I can’t even remember what sparked the thought. I guess it was an epiphany. I realized that my parents were growing. I realized they were becoming better people year by year.

I mark that epiphany as my becoming an adult because I could finally see that others grow and change. That understanding made it easier for me to forgive, love and hope. So much easier that I label it as the moment I became an adult.

Countless songs, books and films have been made about growing up in our culture. A small chain of events and realizations caused singer Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 to sing, “Well, I guess this is growing up,” in their song, Dammit.

Is there a moment or chain of events that you claim as your rite of passage in adulthood? Did you participate in some sort of ritual, or was it just a chance happening? If you haven’t yet passed into adulthood – or you’re not sure – what do you think it is to be an adult? Let us know so we can learn from your unique perspective!


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