Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Pick a Number

I am always surprised to hear discussions on tv, in movies and in life occasionally about how people in their twenties and thirties don't regard themselves as adults. Now, I know everything is delayed nowadays: marriage, children, a stable income but still. I regarded myself as an adult by age 20 at the very latest. Phil says he regarded himself as an adult when he went away to college at 18.

How about you? What year would you choose? Did something happen at that age to make you feel like an adult? Did you parents treat you like a child after you thought of yourself as an adult?

Josh and Kevin

25 comments:

Richard said...

For me it was when I graduated from college at 23. Though I went on to grad school, it was 4 yr. college that was my mental turning point, maybe because that was when most people I knew went from student to full time employee.

My parents treated me like an adult when I turned 21 and was, as my mother put it, "all grown up now".

Cap'n Bob said...

When I was 18 I joined the Army. At 19 I was in Viet Nam. So, for me, 18.

Roger Allen said...

"I regarded myself as an adult by age 20 at the very latest. Phil says he regarded himself as an adult when he went away to college at 18."
But-in each case- did other people? That's what matters. There are Peter Pans who never grew up and there are people likePlomer's D'Arcy Honeybunn:

’ But have you seen his eyes?
The eyes of some old saurian in decay
That asks no questions and is told no lies.

"Under the fribble lurks a worn-out sage
Heavy with disillusion, and alone;
So never say to D’Arcy, ‘Be your age!’-
He’d shrivel up at once or turn to stone."

when they are children.

Jerry House said...

I decided I was an adult when I was 13. This is buttressed by the fact that my wife still thinks I act like I'm 13.

John said...

I equate adulthood with independence and responsibility. No roommates, no sharing of expenses, paying your own way, getting up and going to a job every day, etc. That was at age 26 for me.

I compeletely disagree with Roger's opinion that the way others regard you is "what matters". Utter BS.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I can see Roger's point but that wasn't what I was getting at. How you see yourself determines so much of what you do. Being a child lets you off the hook for so much responsibility in your own mind at least.

Deb said...

I graduated from college, left home, and moved across the country to California when I was 22. On my own for the first time--responsible totally for myself--that was when I thought of myself as an adult.

R.T. said...

I became an adult when I won the draft lottery in late 1965. By mid-January I was in boot-camp. That is one of the rites of passage that cannot be denied.

I sometimes wonder if we as a society have made a mistake by abandoning the draft. Compulsory service to the country (either military or non-military) has much to commend it. At the very least, is a coming-of-age transition that too many 21st century "young adults" need to experience.

R.T. said...

Postscript: I won the draft lottery when I was 19. Then the "fun" began in earnest. Uniforms, guns, and . . . Well, I need not mention the ugly parts.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband's lottery number was 5 but he was in school and missed it.
I can see your point, but the threat of death is too big a price for a push toward growing up.

Todd Mason said...

There's no reason service gets to fall solely on the shoulders of the young, either. (A proviso that will ensure that compulsory service never will be enacted in this country.)(Because older adults hate the kids, entirely too often.)

Not solely though admitted usually younger sorts started calling me "Sir" when I was sixteen. I knew I was an adult when I could vote and became a voter registrar. Nearly every married or seriously involved person is a roomie, John. Even I'm a roomie, or a housemate more to the point.

Todd Mason said...

And, of course, my parents would refer to their house as "home" with implications it was my home. Their house we're selling was a place I stayed while I was finishing college and getting my first post-degree job.

pattinase (abbott) said...

When I chose 20 as the age, it was a strange choice because I'd been married a year. But I was treated as a child by the world--couldn't be served, couldn't get into certain movies easily. Couldn't sign for my own insurance if I remember correctly.

Todd Mason said...

Well, when you were 20, the legal majority was still 21 in most matters..."You can fight and die, but can't DRINK at 18" as the button read...and that's true again, tralala. But at least we can vote, though for whom is always a question. And other enforced childhoodings include certain contracts that one has be older than 18, or even 21, to sign, still, though I believe these are rare. And, of course, we're hearing ever more a return to the childizing of women with such references to tragedies and slaughters as "150 were killed, including 100 women and children" (you know, because men are impervious to bullets and shrapnel, and laugh at volcanic eruption and tsunamis, while women are helpless little things, similar to infants). But the notion that young adults are kept from alcohol but are otherwise responsible as adults and, for that matter, that juveniles are frequently (ever more?) tried as adults, yet if acquitted suddenly aren't adults any more--no enfranchisement, certainly--are such incredibly stupid notions.

Anonymous said...

Jackie says 22, when we got married and she started teaching. That sounds about right.


Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

My brother drew #12 in the first Vietnam draft lottery but got a psychological deferment. I drew a high number (230).

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A woman's salary was not even counted toward a house purchase, the idea being she would soon leave the work force.

Roger Allen said...

"I compeletely disagree with Roger's opinion that the way others regard you is "what matters". Utter BS."
"How you see yourself determines so much of what you do"

How others see you determines so much of what you are allowed to do or made to do. Perhaps being grown-up means accepting or recognising all the things you can't do or won't be allowed to do. As people have pointed out, you can be tried as an adult long before you can vote. Others mentioned conscription as a rite of passage, which is curious; it means being grown-up is marked by an enormous reduction of autonomy or choice.

Anonymous said...

For me, 19, when I voluntarily enlisted in the military. ("There's the plain fools, then there are the damn fools, and then there are the volunteers.") I know a lot of people gripe about double standards, e.g. a 13-year old has to pay an adult price to get into a movie theater, but is not allowed admission to an adults-only movie; or, a juvenile delinquent might be tried as an adult, but still can't legally buy beer. But that works both ways. A lot of college students insist that they are adults, with an unalienable right to smoke, drink, drive, and have sex. Then, if their behavior has consequences (such as an arrest for DUI), they start blubbering, "You can't punish me, I'm just a kid!"

Dana King said...

I can't say for sure when I "knew" when I was an adult. I;m 58 now, and on some days I'm still surprised at the deference I sometimes receive.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Anon, those "blubberers" aren't taken seriously. As they shouldn't be (I'm not sure I've ever heard any of my college or even high school peers make such a plea, but I didn't hang with too many idiots).

Roger, of course my point is that it's insane to treat younger teens as adults only when criminal.

Patti, the good old days, no? Though clearly in some ways they persist.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'd say probably 18. I don't really know that I gave it much thought. I took on a lot of adult roles after my dad died when I was 13. But certainly my mom didn't think of me as an adult then.

Cap'n Bob said...

When I was 18 it was legal to drink in New York, where I lived. I never was much of a drinker so I didn't care.

George said...

I was still a kid in graduate school. Adulthood arrived the same time I married Diane: 29.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A good woman will do that.