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!

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Processes

Everything we do has a process that must be followed in order for that task to be completed.  For example, cooking: to make any sort of food, there is a recipe and list of directions to follow, otherwise that food will turn out to be inedible.  The same goes for taking a test, working 0ut, writing an essay, etc.  In the same way, every writer has a different way of going about their writing.  Some pull out a notepad and pen, others open their computer and use their favorite word-processing program. Every writer also has their own way – or style – of actually producing a piece of writing – that is, what steps they go through to finish a specific piece of writing.

It’s taken me a while to find the habits that work best for me, but now that I do, the routine of it can actually improve my writing sometimes because I’ve trained myself to think and do it that way. For me, I like to use my computer to write.  I can switch around words and phrases a lot easier, and I’m a much faster typist than I am if I’m writing with a pen and paper.  As for the writing of the piece itself, the process slightly depends on what it is that I’m writing.  Since I’m primarily a creative writer, when I think of my own personal “writing process,” what comes to mind is the process I use when I’m writing a creative piece – i.e., poetry, a novel chapter or a short story.

Usually a piece will start out as a raw idea of inspiration – an emotion, a conviction, or – if I’m doing prose – a certain scenario or scene occurs to me.  If I’m able to, I usually like to get that idea down, and any other ideas that might occur to me as branches off of that first main bit of inspiration. Sometimes, though, I get hit with some bit of inspiration when I have nothing to write my ideas down with but my phone – so I text the bare bones of the idea to myself, so that I can write it down and use it later.

After I’ve got the inspiration, I start on a first draft. If it’s poetry, this starts out very rough… no rhymes, no rhythm, just bare ideas in a rough form. Prose starts out a little less rough because it tends to have a bit more flow to it, so the problems I run into later when I’m editing are more about content running away with itself! After I’ve written a first draft, I go back and fix the obvious mistakes, and clarify vague areas in the text as well as cut and add content where it needs it.

And then I let it sit. I’ve found that leaving a piece be for a good length of time allows my mind to recover from the excitement and emotion of having had a good bout of inspiration.  So, after a day or two, I’m better able to come back to the piece with a more distant eye, and I’m able to find the jumps in logic or awkwardness in the lines or sentences without that bias of, “Oh wow this is such a great, amazing idea!”

At that point, after having let it sit and then re-edited it, the piece is usually “done.” Sometimes more time will pass after that second bout of editing, and I’ll come back to the piece and edit it again, but most often, I consider it “done” after the first wait period.

As I’ve mentioned before, I often post my work on a number of websites, and this is usually what I do after a piece is finished. I seek critique and comment on it, and if I succeed in getting either of those, I consider using it to practically improve my writing skills.

I’d be very interested to hear what your writing process is and what you think of mine, so please don’t by shy with comments! As always, thanks for reading!