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What Does It Mean To Be An Adult?

Updated on November 15, 2012
Being an adult takes work and commitment
Being an adult takes work and commitment | Source

Age and Maturity Are Not The Same Thing

I’m forty-six years old and I’m not an adult.

How can that be? My hair is grey. My vision is going. There are aches and pains all over my body. There’s a noticeable paunch to my mid-section. I am married and I have a mortgage that I pay off every month.

The argument is that physically I am an adult. I would argue back, that mentally, I’m not.

Adults do adult things. Adults act like adults. They have their priorities in order and have goals that they strive to accomplish. They make their place in this world. They take everything seriously. They work hard. They play hard. They talk hard.

When they start a family, they take their responsibilities seriously. They know that their family is their priority. Everything they do centers around that. And just as I say that being an adult is more than reaching an age mark, being a parent is more than just procreating successfully. They work and earn money for a family to thrive.

When they are not working, they are doing something to make themselves more marketable – so they are always in demand and an asset to any group they’re part of. They know that as they’ve brought a human being into this world, they are responsible for it. They bring their own circle of influence to the task of filling in their circle of concerns. The best parents know that being a parent is more than feeding, clothing, and sheltering a child. They know that within themselves is something they need to pass down and nurture whether it’s a talent, a habit, a skill, or a belief.

Being an adult also means knowing that you don’t have to procreate, get married, or join an organized religion. Adults think independently and work off of a vision that they had in their youth. They know that once they’ve set themselves upon a path that they need to take every step seriously. They exercise their own habits to be successful in their mission and work from dependence to independence to interdependence eventually finding people of a common mindset to accomplish bigger and greater things than what he could do by himself.

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That’s what adults do.

Adults plan. Adults work. Adults take responsibility for their own actions. Adults provide a good example to their juniors. Adults take care of themselves. Adults exercise to keep healthy and know that eventually they will be older and hopefully wiser by the enrichment of their own experiences – as well as what they’ve found through others.

Just having money and being self-sufficient is not what being an adult means.

Being an adult means that you care for someone or something to put it ahead of your own selfish desires and know what the greater good is. Being an adult means that you will be the one who cleans the gunk out of the sink or the toilet or any one of thousand distasteful jobs that a younger less mature person wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Being an adult means that you know the difference between importance and urgency. You also need to remember that personal does not necessarily mean important either. Adults know what army officers have been trained to know. The priorities have always been mission, men, and self. As they have defined their own mission and they have found their compatriots, they know that the one with the least amount of importance is their self as it will eventually work not only for the greater good but something larger than what he is.

Consequently, adults know when to say, “No.”

Adults say “no” to excess alcohol and excess substance abuse. Adults know when too much is too much. Adults know that their own drunken words are ultimately their responsibility – a wrong word to the wrong person will have consequences that will not be excused by the drink or the drugs. The same goes with their actions. A fist fight or brawl for the wrong reasons is unforgivable and punishment will not be assuaged by flimsy excuses.

Being an adult is a rite of passage that we should all strive for. Some of us, like myself, are not there yet. We have our own self perceptions that we are either not good enough or we deserve a free pass because we are not adults.

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People who are not adults blame their tools and never their own inexperience – and what’s more, they won’t learn from their own mistakes. Adults don’t blame other people for their shortcomings. They embrace them knowing that once an adult knows his strengths and his weaknesses, he knows all.

Adults are leaders or people who have chosen not to lead. For in knowing where their strengths lie, they can use them to their fullest and pass on what they know to others who are still developing their own talents. They are not ones to squander their talents in obscurity rather they know what they can do is a gift from the universe and should be used in accordance to that.

Adults know the difference between tiredness, fatigue, and laziness – and laziness and sloth are known to be the deadliest of their enemies. For how much evil has occurred because one adult failed to act due to his own laziness. Adults are proactive.

No, I am old – but I’m not an adult. I write about comic books, zombies, and haven't taken ten things in my life seriously. I eat too much, drink too much, and procrastinate. Being an adult is what I should be and what I strive to be. And, hopefully, I will be an adult before I’m too old.


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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 5 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      It's unfortunate that we have a society that keeps people from growing up, accepting responsibility, and having the necessary skills to be self-sufficient.

      People will argue that it's the responsibility of schools to indoctrinate children in the knowledge of what they need to survive. This is far from the truth.

      If we were really serious about giving kids and young adults the tools they need to be adults we'd teach them the skills they'd really need as required courses. In addition to math, reading, science, and writing - public speaking would be required. Or how about this - because this is what society expects of us - "How to get a job", "What you really need to know about the law", "Basic electrical knowledge", "Basic Plumbing", "Economics 101", "How to maintain a home", "How to start your own business", "Civics 101", "How to invest your money", and "How to pay your taxes".

      Our society thrives on people NOT knowing how to do these things. That's why we have lawyers, accountants, plumbers, electricians, and investment bankers - as well as others that see a need and fill a need. However, the point I wish to make is that we should, at least, have a clue as to what to do in any of the above circumstances. Most parents don't pass that vital information along, most schools don't teach it, and you won't find it in church, either.

      We as developing humans don't find out how to do what we need to do until it's thrust upon us and we have to find outside help to learn for the first time.

      Those are studies for adults.

      The arts, music, theatre, and even history - while valuable in some lights - are not as necessary to sustaining and creating a responsible adult population.

    • Dominique L profile image

      Dominique L 5 years ago from Oregon

      Well said, sir. One of the things I'm still trying to learn, and that I think is part of being an adult, is that we're all part of something bigger and we're all interconnected so how we act affects people in positive and negative ways.

      But, yeah, growing up is painful and hard.