In the last week or so I’ve been thinking about what it means to be an adult and the point at which someone crosses the line from childhood/adolescence and steps into the adult world. I think for many of us, there is great variation in what we all believe to be signs of adulthood. We take certain life events like leasing our first apartment, starting a full time job, or getting married as signs that we have breached the threshold of the adult world; that we are no longer children. Many of us believe that these rights of passage are clear indicators that we have progressed beyond the beginning stages of our lives.
In my mind, however, the typical signs of adulthood for most individuals have absolutely nothing to do with living arrangements, financial stability, or even long term commitments; for me adulthood comes in the realization of universal truths and the understanding born from the roots of experience. In my mind, being an adult comes not from physical development, but from emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth; the kinds of growth that many of us continue to work on throughout our lives. With that being said, I have made a list of things that I personally believe people must know and understand before they can even begin to consider themselves contributing members of the adult world.
You are an adult if…
- You understand that your actions have consequences far beyond what you can immediately see.
- You have overcome the notion that love conquers all.
- You can begin to see people not for their differences, but more so for their similarities.
- You have realized that your happiness isn’t always the most important thing.
- You have learned that sometimes far more can be said by saying nothing.
- You have learned how to accept blame for something that was entirely your fault.
- You understand that every life, no matter its size, shape, or color serves a purpose, regardless of whether or not you understand its purpose.
- You are able to accept your faults and shortcomings as parts of who you are; that you are only human just like everybody else.
- You are able to accept the faults and shortcomings of others as parts of who they are; that they are only human just like everybody else.
- You have learned which lines should never be crossed and which ones should have never even been drawn.
- You can appreciate the value of every challenge that has ever come your way and the effort you put in to overcome them.
- You can fully comprehend the difference between love and lust.
- You can find more value in the journey, rather than the destination.
- You have learned that material things will not bring you lasting happiness.
- You understand that time, once lost, can never be regained.
- You are able to easily tell the difference between a want and a need.
- You understand that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather doing the right thing in spite of its presence.
- You understand that everybody dies, but not everybody lives.
- You can see beauty in even the ugliest of things.
- You understand that all things change, and yet everything remains the same.
- You have learned that not all stories have a happy ending.
- You understand that every decision you make is half chance and nothing is guaranteed.
- You have learned that everything that matters takes effort and nothing worth having comes easily.
- You have learned that each day is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself or those around you.
- You have learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength.
In my mind until someone has achieved all of these things, he or she is not an adult, but rather a continual work in progress. Oh and if you’re wondering if I can check all of these off, all I can say is that wisdom can come at any age.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry