Does it really matter if you’re an adult yet?

Me, an 18 yr old bean; at Namsan Tower, Seoul

Every time I think of writing something, whether it be a poem, an article, a journal entry or just random thoughts on the margins of my notebooks, I automatically start with the phrase, ‘It’s easy to…’. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why it was so but as I think back to how I’ve grown over the years, from being a cheeky 5 year old to an insecure and socially anxious teen, I clearly see why.

I’m not an adult yet. What does adulthood mean anyway? Is it the technicality of it, the fact that you’ve successfully completed eighteen or twenty-one years of your life? Or is it when you start paying rent and cooking meals from groceries you bought with your hard-earned money? Is it when you suddenly realise you understand more about the world than you did when you were sixteen? Or is it when everything that you believed or was meant to believe in turns upside down? Is it all of these things together or is it none of them?

I don’t know what it feels like to be an adult. I’ve tried over the years to be more ‘mature’ than people my same age. ‘Why?’ I ask now to myself. Was it the idea that maturity equals having an adult opinion equals mental freedom? Maybe. Or was it an unconscious rebelling against a world that puts emphasis on children ‘not knowing enough about the world’? I think so. I don’t know the answers to these questions, and neither should you.
 As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to speed the process of my growth. I wanted to be an adult. I wanted to be someone who made life-decisions, someone who woke up in the morning knowing that the chain of events for the day where a consequence of real time decisions they made throughout it. Yes, it seems like too complex a thought for an eight year old, but at the time I was not able to put the feeling of this particular want into words. It’s taken me years of self-conditioning, years of saying I have/ need/ want/ should/ could do this to realise that I was itching to go down an inevitable path no one cares (or dares) to truly explain to us. All we get are endless words of “I wish I could go back to the time I was young.”

When we are children, we yearn to grow up but when we get older, we yearn to grow down. Fast-forwarding years becomes rewinding and replaying memories. 
 So, the real question is “Does it really matter if you’re an adult yet?” I don’t have an answer to this question either. No surprise there. What I do know is that a semblance of adulthood can come creeping up on you one day. You could be living your whole life with your parents and one day when you turn thirty they ask you to leave. The world is out there, yet you have no clue how to rent/ buy a house all on your own. You could be living a lie your whole life, one that consists of God being the only one who can fix everything. The next day, you witness your best friend being run-over by a drunk driver with your own eyes. Your beliefs shatter and your heart seems to slowly slide down your legs and pool at your feet. You’re angry but at whom?

Adulthood, I’d say is a tricky concept. Biologically, maybe not, but mentally, it can make you start questioning every thing that has/is about to happen to you. 
 To me, adulthood, or being an adult is a very personal thing. I could switch from being mature to immature in two seconds flat and yet not know if I’ve ever been an adult or ever will be. The truth is that I’d like to be an adult, but can you be something that nobody is able to define? I think not.

So, my verdict would be: be whoever you want. Be a child when you’re picking out snacks for a moviethon. Be an adult when buying groceries. You can be both.
 Maybe this verdict is intuitive to you. If so, you have successfully wasted five minutes of your life reading this. However, if you are or once was an awkward teen waiting to turn that number and to live your life, know that things will change. It’s easy to dream and idealise a part of your life but when it turns out to be completely and utterly different, it hits you, hard. Things will change so much, you’ll be ready to turn back and even want to redo those once seemingly painful years of high school. But fret not, because you’ll change with it and sometimes it’s alright to switch between parts of you, the child and the adult in an effort to not loose your mind navigating the world.