The True Meaning of "Adult"

With recent state laws deciding that a person must be 21 or older to purchase nicotine, a new question has risen; are you really an adult when you’re 18? Legally, yes. But it’s not that simple. At 18, you are legally allowed to vote and serve your country, but you can’t even grab a beer, smoke a joint, or hit a Juul. By passing these laws, our government is saying that you’re kind of an adult, but not really. If you can die for our country, can’t you at least grab a beer for the road to the great beyond? Apparently not, because you’re simply not adult enough. 

Wiktor Karkocha

So what does being an adult really mean? Is it just another arbitrary label that society has thrust upon its patrons? To answer that we must look at the definition of adult. According to our trusty friend Google, the definition of adult is “ a person who is fully grown or developed”. By following that definition, most people are not fully developed by the age of 18, and therefore are not adults. So, this begs the question, why are we letting under-developed individuals carry weapons and die for our country? That doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Most people are fully developed by 25, not 18. So why does our government label 18-year-olds as adults, when they are not fully developed and cannot buy alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine? 

This isn’t a question that I have the answer to. Heck, I’m just as curious as you. In reality, there isn’t one solid definition of “adult”. There’s the dictionary definition, but that definition is negated by numerous governments that state that adulthood begins at the age of 18. And even in some familial environments, 18 is when you are on your own. But why trust a teenager, because, let’s face it, you’re still a teenager at 18, to pay their own bills when their brain isn’t fully developed? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. There’s contradicting definitions of “adult”, so why even try to define it? Since governments simply use it as a label to state what you’re allowed to do, and not as a means of determining brain development, the word “adult” seems arbitrary and a little frustrating for those who are legally an adult, but are still not allowed to partake in activities that most adults experience on a daily basis. Either get rid of the idea that 18 means you’re legally an adult, or start letting 18-year-olds partake in all activities that are deemed adult.

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