Judging by the title, you might be thinking that I’m a senior about to graduate and move to the big bad rest of the world, and I am here to impart my wisdom unto you all. But alas, I am not.
But I AM about to ring the symbolic bell that apparently signifies that next year) will be my last here at Vassar (provided that I don’t fail all of my classes this semester. I swear that it was just four years ago and I was about to finish eleventh grade and still had no idea where in the heck I wanted to go to college (North Carolina seemed nice…?), but here we are.
And my question is, in those four years, did I become an adult? I remember being in elementary school and watching Zoom, my favorite PBS show of all time, and thinking that the kids on it were so cool and grown up. I’m pretty sure that none of them were over the age of fourteen. If I had looked at a 20-year-old back then, I would have thought that they probably had their entire life figured out.
When do you become an adult? Is it when you are eligible to be tried as an adult in the eyes of the law? Or when your age no longer has the word “teen” after it? Or when you can legally drive a car, or drink alcohol? My elementary school self would refute that, undeniably, yes, after all of these things happen… you’re basically middle aged.
Obviously becoming an adult is a process. It’s definitely not something that happens overnight, or even in the course of a couple years. Maybe not even something that happens at all, depending on the person. But there are little things that make you think that being an adult might be a real thing. You are finally the age of the store Forever 21, but feel too grown up to actually shop there. People stop immediately assuming that you’re still in high school. You rent an apartment off of Craigslist and don’t end up getting murdered, much to your parents’ surprise. You successfully nab an internship in your chosen career path, much to your own surprise
The point is that, as I move into senior year, I’m trying to keep in mind that most of the things that I should associate with reaching the “adulthood” mile marker are not necessarily marked by passage of time, but by experiences that boost confidence in my ability to not die when out on my own. Sure, the near to immediate future will most definitely include me accidentally doing plenty of really stupid things like setting off the fire alarm when trying to microwave a frozen veggie burger, but I for one am apt to think that “becoming an adult” is just code for “learning how to pretend that you actually know what you’re doing.” Isn’t everyone just kind of faking it until they make it?