The saying goes, “be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it,” and it applies to more than just material possessions.
How is this concerned with the way that we are treated by society? We ask everyday to be treated as an adult, so when our parents, the community, our teachers, and our siblings decide to grant us our request, we must not be disappointed when we receive it in its entirety.
When I say that we ask for adulthood, I am referring to our lifelong struggle to be given privileges of independence.
As toddlers, the notion of getting to use the “big girl” and “big boy” cups, you know, the ones without lids, was an enticing concept. We learned that we had to clean up the messes that we spilled. We longed to be able to sit at the adult table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and felt mighty when we no longer had to use a car seat.
Elementary school was filled with pleas to stay up “just a little longer”, and when we were allowed to stay awake until dad got home, we were sleepy victors.
In middle school our need to be older intensified, and we found ourselves wanting the responsibility of having a cellphone, but not the consequences of going over data, a monthly bill, or a bad decision that could never be retracted. We wanted makeup. We did not want to pay for makeup. The desire to go to the mall with some friends without Mom waiting at the food court was rampant, and we were finally entrusted with the independence to make good decisions monetarily and socially.
Then we got to high school, and we wanted that license. We were given this token of adulthood under the assumption that we would drive our siblings to practice, pay for gas, and make decisions that valued the lives of others and ourselves on the road. We wanted facial hair, like real men. We wanted to go on dates and to have a later curfew, but we didn’t want to face the report card that reflected nights with no room for homework.
We now, after almost two decades of asking to be older, are being regarded as adults. We cannot have partial adulthood. Mom and Dad cannot choose to skip work, abandon their duty as mother and father, or spend their money carelessly because they dislike certain aspects of what characterize the meaning of being grown up. We may not fall in love with everything inherent in adulthood, but we cannot have the cars, the privileges, or the respect without the responsibilities as well.
Adulthood is where we have arrived. When we responsibly accept it in its entirety and embrace the independence that it offers, that is when we have truly become “grown up.”