A Roundtable Discussion on Defining Adulthood

There seems to be a gray area when it comes to defining the moment when a person becomes an adult. While most legal systems state that a person becomes an adult once they turn 18, there are legal adults who do not feel that this is accurate. I gathered a small group for a roundtable discussion on adulthood using Hot Cheetos as a bribe. The people involved like to listen to their own voices, so getting them to talk about their opinions on what makes a grown-up was not difficult. Hiba saw herself as an adult while Vivian saw herself as something in-between. 

According to Vivian’s sociology class, members of our generation do not see themselves as adults because college prevents them from immediately jumping into the “adult world."

“There’s been an extension in the period of emerging adulthood. College helps us put off full adult responsibility,” Vivian said. 

This is true. We found that thanks to our academic environment, none of us cook, pay rent, or live in a building that requires any kind of upkeep on our part. 

“I feel like people who have nine-to-five jobs, and pay their rent, are more adult. That money is going towards something you need,” Hiba said. 

We all agreed that the majority of the money we all have earned at our jobs has gone toward things we probably do not need. Rather than rent, we pay for scrunchies, sweaters, and ridiculous amounts of takeout food. Being an adult might be more related to managing your money than it is to particular events in someone’s life. 

Vivian believed that there are no milestones that automatically make you an adult. Vivian, in fact, was visibly annoyed at the concept. She recounted many times that the people around her had bragged about completing basic tasks independently, like making an omelet or doing a load of laundry. 

“A lot of people see that as growth, but I knew how to do those things already. Knowing how to grocery shop doesn’t make you a grown-up. It makes you a competent human being,” Vivian. 

Hiba believed that there was a singular milestone; having a job and living on your own after completing school.

“That’s when you really have to be an adult and a lot of people aren’t ready for that transition,” she said.

Hiba also saw becoming an adult as something that happens when your priorities change. She found herself focusing more on school, not just for the sake of getting an A, but so that she could eventually become a doctor.

Becoming an adult is no longer something that is black and white. You do not just turn 18, graduate high school, move out, automatically receive a certificate declaring that you have made it. Many of us are stuck in the college in-between, postponing the management of our finances. There will come a time when we have to do a little more to take care of things for ourselves, but as far as we are concerned, we are not there yet. 


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