So far, I’ve been in the Earth as it made 17 revolutions around the Sun. If that’s not clear to you, I’ll make it clearer: the world has had to put up with me for 213 months and 15 days. (Feels rather small, right?)
4-year old me asked 4000 questions a day, just like any other 4-year old (17.9 year old me asks 6000 a day, so that’s some growth right there!). So 4-year old me asked my grandmother “When does one become an adult?” Her reply was “When you are 18, you legally become an adult. Till then, you’re a minor.” 4-year old me wondered, why this weird number? Why can’t it be a more solid number like 20? Aren’t 18-year olds still in their 10s? (My then word for teens). 17 year old me still wonders…
The transition in East vs West
Turning 18 isn’t much of a thing in Asia as it is in the West. Although your parents are no longer legally obliged to take care of you, in most cases they continue to do so. My sympathies are with my Western peers. I’m hearing stories of orphan teens who are thrown out of foster homes and rendered homeless as they are now “adults” and need to support themselves. Others leave their “parents’s house” and work a part or full time job along with balancing college life. Add “keeping grades up” to that. And people wonder why Asians do better in academics!
My age at the time of writing this is 17 years and 9 months (and 15 days, if you care for accuracy). That said, I’m approaching the so-called “milestone” of 18 at the speed of light. Hence, I officially owe my kin and kith some justification to my childish manners and playful demeanour.
Some of these are stand-alone points and some have a tiny explanation. Please be patient and read them all. I bet you’ll be able to relate and add your own. Here are 18 reasons why 18 is too early to call someone an adult:
1. Biology- At 18, the prefrontal cortex is hardly half way developed. Prefrontal cortex controls decision making, impulse control and focus.
2. That said, you will most likely regret the decisions you make at this age. Some rush into romantic relationships, which may lead to marriage, which may subsequently lead to divorce. Not many husbands who married their college sweethearts see their wives’ first fine lines!
3. The good old cliché- Age is just a number
4. You may still grow an inch or few. Are adults lucky enough to grow?
5. Some are hardly done with puberty. Not very long back, I got asked by a very curious aunty, “Have you hit puberty?”.
6. Where the law goes wrong- Permitting alcohol and drug usage by 18 and convicting them for “drug abuse”. You seriously think these teens would use alcohol wisely?
6. Teen and adult at the same time? Duh, are you listening to yourself?
7. The law going wrong again- Allowing 18-year old “adults” to legally marry and still worrying about the human population increasing like rabbit population!
8. Early marriage can lead to citizens not contributing to the country as they hardly have enough time to contribute for their family! They raise kids without raising the economy.
(Personally witnessed this, living in a tier 1 Indian city!) Not to mention, their whole family becomes a tax-payer’s responsibility.
9. Evolution- Life expectancy has increased a lot. There is no longer any urge to rush into adulthood at the tender age of 18 when life waits for you until 81.
10. Blood donation- This is very noble and nobody in their right mind would discourage it. But College is when most students starve, due to dislike of hostel food. You may be anaemic, unbeknownst to yourself. So run a blood test and check if you are robust enough. You are still developing as well. If you don’t fit the standards yet, don’t beat yourself up.
11. I wouldn’t trust an 18 year old riding the aircraft I’m in. Thank you! Who knows their adventurous spirits didn’t sip alcoholic spirits before the long abstinence during the flight?
12. The law will not lead me to believe that you magically become an adult on the midnight of your 18th birthday. Three months from now, I don’t think I’d be any different from the way I am today.
13. 18 should not be a benchmark for legal punishment. If they are capable of committing a crime at 17, they deserve to be convicted at 17 itself. There have been cases where a rapist is released because he was one day younger than 18 on the day of crime. Well-deserved punishment (in cases like this, encounter) shouldn’t wait until a certain birthday.
14. Everyone’s journey is different. Respect a late bloomer just as you would an overachiever.
15. It’s a period filled with confusion and identity crises. For instance, I feel like a child in a nearly adult’s body.
16. You don’t yet look or think like your actual adult self. You will evolve a lot more. Imagine if your mental metamorphosis stopped at 18? This has to do with point #1.
17. In some countries (like South Korea and many provinces in Canada), you are not yet an adult at 18. Contrarily, you became an adult 2 years ago in Scotland. These numbers are not universal, making one more reason to disregard them.
18. A philosophical approach to turning 18- Adulthood and maturity are processes and not a destination you reach overnight. Processes take time and it’s okay to enjoy it slow.
Nevertheless, I’m very glad that I’ll get to vote and DONATE BLOOD. As for me, this would be the best thing about my upcoming birthday as I’d get to share my rare elixir with the world. If you have a rare blood type, you never know when your help is required!
It’s okay to not shed childhood mannerisms. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to enjoy the beautiful metamorphosis and embrace the “slowness” of these fascinating processes. Growth should not be rushed into just because of peer pressure and because a certain number requires you to act a certain way.
Finally, I should apologise for the image- It’s quite bad, I know. For once I wanted to use an image that doesn’t risk me a copyright claim. It also compliments my love for imperfection (yeah, I’m a fan!).
On this note, my next post will be written by the child in me, putting adolescent me to rest. A light-hearted poem by the title “Old Dr Henry.” Hope you enjoyed reading this, as much as I enjoyed writing it! 😊