What Makes You An Adult?

It’s a valid question, right?  There seems to be such a fuzzy line that separates childhood from adulthood, so who’s to say where that line really is?

For me, this question comes up constantly, especially in the last couple of years.  Being born as the oldest in a family of six children, I think it’s fair to say that my transition into adulthood started earlier than a lot of other peoples’ did – or, at least, it felt like it did.  Many people would mark the edges of that fuzzy line somewhere around age 15 or 16, but how can you put a measure of time on the progression and growth of maturity?

Or don’t we define adulthood in terms of maturity?  I suppose much of the world defines adults by more tangible milestones – getting your license, legally gaining adult rights at 18, the ability to drink anywhere in the US at 21, getting married, etc.  So here we have two different ways of telling when we officially become adults: when you reach a certain milestone, or when you reach a certain level of maturity.

But isn’t it more complicated than that?  If we say that an adult is someone who has “grown up,” then that fuzzy line could potentially start anywhere over the course of our lives because we’re always maturing.  And how is it possible to measure maturity, anyway?  For one thing, maturity comes and develops in everyone differently and at a different pace.  How, then, is it in any way measurable?  We try to, though – apparently we’re presumed responsible enough to control two tons of metal at breakneck speeds when we’re 15 or 16 years old…  Apparently we’re ready to face adult legal matters and handle the responsibility of adult privileges at the age of 18, according to the government…  Apparently at 21, we’re presumed to have enough self-control and discretion around an addictive substance…

So does the answer lie in the definitions that others make for us?  Do the government, our parents, our siblings, our peers and our great-aunt Suzy’s definitions all coalesce into a custom-made definition of adulthood for each individual person?  Or is the best answer we can give simply that becoming an adult is a process, not a turning point?  And therefore, since it’s something that necessarily happens over a period of time, it’s impossible to choose one moment or one achievement to mark that transition clearly?

Alright – I realize that I’m being more than a little dramatic about this, but at the same time, every question I asked is a valid one.  Recently, I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress related to some problems in my workplace, and more than once, I’ve found myself asking, “is this an issue everyone has to deal with at some point, or do I just have exceptionally bad luck when it comes to part-time jobs?”  This is nowhere near the only (or worst) example I could mention in relation to this question of adulthood, but I think it’s especially relevant to people in my age group – especially students.

So what do you think?  Fellow students and young adults, what are your thoughts about where you’re at in terms of adulthood?  And to everyone else, what do you think about the arguments I’ve made and the points I’ve presented?  What are your perspectives on this?

Thanks for reading!

The Writer as an Artist

How would you describe a writer?  What definition would you give?  “Someone who puts thoughts and ideas into words,” perhaps?  Or maybe “someone who creates stories” or even “someone who can express themselves through the written word”?

My definition is much more simple: a writer is an artist.  Artists use their surroundings, emotions, perceptions and ideas as their material to create their own medium of communication.  That medium is their chosen form of art, and through that art, they attempt to communicate their unique and profound perceptions of truth and beauty.  This is exactly what writers do.  There may be many, many, many forms of writing out there, but there are myriad types and forms of art too – painting, pottery, sculpting, drawing, photography, animation, jewelry making, cinematography, acting, singing…  The list goes on.  Granted, there will always be disagreements about which forms of writing (and other art forms too, for that matter) actually qualify as art, but my point remains the same: writers are artists.

Some would argue that writing is a lesser form of art than the ones I listed above because pieces like paintings and sculptures are forms of “visual art,” and are therefore universally easier to understand because they lack a language barrier.  I would counter that any kind of visual art can be just as hard to understand as a piece of writing that isn’t written in your language.  Every piece of art has a profound concept behind it, and it’s the skill and intention of the artist that makes that piece of art easy or hard to understand.  Also, other types of art have just as many restrictions as writing does.  Pieces of writing can always be translated (even if some of the original meaning can get lost in the translation), but other forms of art have other restrictions that writing doesn’t have – such as being confined to one still image if we’re talking about photography or painting, or being restricted to a certain time frame if we’re talking about cinematography or animation, or even the restriction of one specific pose or shape if we’re talking about sculpting or pottery.  All of these restrictions put pressure on the artist, forcing him to refine and clarify his concept before pursuing it in his chosen art form.

I would even go so far as to say that writing might actually be a way of reaching more people than any other form of art.  Because no matter what picture you wish to convey in your reader’s mind, it will always look different to every eye that reads it.  You want to paint the image of a beautiful woman?  She will be beautiful, no matter what details you use to describe her because everyone who reads that description will imagine their own version of beauty.  It might not be your version, but you succeeded in communicating what you set out to.

You want to describe a desolate wasteland?  An emotion etched into a character’s face?  An object of rare beauty and mystical power?  Use the best language you can find, translating it from the image fixed in your mind, and if your skill can make the image breathe, you’ve succeeded in your purpose.

Because words are not color; they are the brushes.

Words are not lenses; they are the light by which you see the model.

Words are not the end; they are the means.

Visual artists can only show you one picture, but words can not only show you the whole story, they can become every perspective, conform themselves to every individual’s imagination, and even communicate an ideal in its truest, purest form.  Because the idea behind the words is an essence even the blind can understand.

And everybody knows that even the blind can read.