Everyone has their own opinion on when exactly a child or adolescent becomes an “adult”. Societal Programming also plays a strong role in people’s views on exactly when a person should be treated like an adult or a “child”. This programming is so strong that very intelligent people can and do act very stupid when trying to describe their view on this.
Some people believe that adulthood begins when you leave your parents’ home and strike out on your own. Other more traditional people believe adulthood begins when you get married. Still others believe it happens as soon as you turn 18. Some more scientific types believe it happens when you turn 25, since that’s when the human brain is fully formed.
The point is, there is no real consensus on this, and opinions vary.
When my kids were smaller, I told them that one is not an adult until one has met three criteria:
1. You are 18 years old or older.
2. You do not live with your parents.
3. You can pay 100% of your monthly bills, every month, with zero assistance from your parents.
Then, and only then, I told my kids, are you an “adult”. I repeated this to them so often they got sick of hearing it.
A 15 year-old is not an “adult”, no matter how smart he/she is. I was very smart when I was 15. I was no where near an adult.
A 25 year-old is not an “adult” if he/she still lives with their parents and relies on their parents’ income to maintain a roof over their heads. In my view that person is still a adolescent, at least to some degree.
The same goes for a 23 year-old away at college, living on his/her parent’s money for living expenses. Or the 27 year-old single mother whose own mother helps her out with bills on a regular basis. This is simply another variation of living off your parents. These people are not what I would call “adults”.
Why am I putting quotes around the word “adult” in the above paragraphs? Because I was telling my kids this not to clarify the definition of the word “adult”, but to impress upon them the meaning of independence and freedom. Once you’re 18 years old (legal age of adulthood in most areas), don’t live with your parents, and don’t rely on your parents, then you can do whatever you want independent of your parents. If all three of these conditions are not true, your parents still exert great control over your life regardless of your numerical age, and no matter how smart or tough you think you are.
However, the true meaning of the word “adult” is a little different.
I was talking about the logistics and external circumstances of being an adult, especially in terms of personal independence. I believe, and still believe strongly, in my above definition.
However, what an adult actually is makes for a different conversation entirely.
What Is An Adult?
What if I told you that my real definition for who an adult is is one that most people never qualify for? What if I told you that, based on my real adulthood definition, most people in society never reach true adulthood, ever, even well into their 50s or 60s?
It’s true. I think most people walking around are not adults at all. At least not how I define the term. Here is my real definition for adulthood :
Adulthood is reached when one fully realizes and acknowledges the falsehoods taught to him as a younger person.
Adulthood is reached when you finally realize and acknowledge (since realizing and acknowledging are two different things!) that 2 + 2 does not equal 5. It happens when you realize that not only is there no Santa Clause or Easter Bunny, but that women don’t stay monogamous forever, all the politicians you vote for are owned by big banks, a calorie from lettuce is very different than a calorie from a doughnut or an egg, and a whole bunch of other horrific truths that you were lied to about throughout your childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.
By this standard, most of the population (as in more than 50%) never reach adulthood at all, even if they live to age 90 before departing this mortal coil. Many others do eventually reach adulthood, but only at much older ages.
My Adulthood, Or Lack Thereof
I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t reach adulthood until I was about 31-32 years old. For example, I spent much of my twenties voting for Republicans. This was because, and again I’m embarrassed to admit this, I thought they would actually make government smaller if they were elected. I mean, that’s what everyone said. Rush Limbaugh said it, and my conservative friends said it. Even the left-wing liberals said it. “Don’t vote for Republicans! They’ll make government smaller! NOOO!!!!” So everyone said it, even the people who hated Republicans. Since I wanted government to get smaller, I voted for Republicans.
It took me over 10 years to realize everyone was lying to me about this, even the left-wingers. And not only about that, but about everything else too.
Back then, before adulthood, I would do things like eat fat-free but high-sugar and high-calorie cookies in an effort to lose weight. I would try to turn women on sexually by buying them fancy dinners and flowers and telling them how pretty they were.
I operated on autopilot, doing exactly what society told me about these things, never questioning that all of society would be lying to me so blatantly about how the world worked.
Now, in my defense, I didn’t do everything wrong. As a young man, I could see that college was complete bullshit, so I intelligently skipped over that one and went right into the corporate world and started my own business a few years later. That ended up being one of the best decisions of my entire life. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had wasted four years of prime time and going tens of thousands of dollars into debt by learning about things that had no application in the real world.
I did a few other things right too. Seeing the chaos monogamy caused all of my buddies at the time, I never promised monogamy to anyone, ever, from puberty all the way to age 25. Very few men can say the same.
So while I didn’t do everything wrong, but I was still a child all the way until my early 30s, when I started to realize that societal “wisdom”, or should I say programming, was completely wrong on just about very major life topic.
Adulthood For You
You may be an adult (based on my above definition) or you may not be. If you’re not, you may get there someday, or you may never get there. You may get there in certain areas, but tenaciously hold on to certain Societal Programming in others, not letting them go.
You may get to the point where you realize certain things, but don’t acknowledge them. That still means you’re not an adult, because an adult does both.
An example of someone who realizes but does not acknowledge would be the progressive who knows Obama bombs civilian targets on purpose and authorizes the NSA to read your personal email, but votes for him anyway. It would also be the high sex drive, well-read manosphere guy who gets married, monogamous, and doesn’t sign a prenup anyway, because he thinks he’s “screened” well or will make it work by being an “Alpha with his wife” or something.
Hey, I’ll admit it: getting to adulthood is a painful process. It hurts to admit that the things you were told to want aren’t possible, or that the world isn’t what you were told it was. It’s hard to switch around major parts of your life, or future plans, to adjust to the new realities you’ve discovered…realities you may not like or agree with.
I went through this in my early 30s. It was rough. I didn’t like many of the facts I uncovered. It involved a lot of personal upset and upheaval. It also was a factor in a divorce I had to go through, which was also tough.
Was transitioning to adulthood worth it?
I now live a lifestyle that young, excited 23 year-old me did not even think was possible. And that’s saying a lot, because I had some big goals back then. Today, my typical Mondays are more exciting than young guy’s Christmases. I’m not exaggerating.
This lifestyle would not have been possible if I had chosen to stay a child. And I mean chosen, because often it is indeed a choice. By going through the temporary pain of adulthood, I experience more consistent happiness than I ever thought possible.
My only regret is that I hadn’t done it sooner.
Be an adult, or not. The choice is yours.