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At what age are you adult?

Updated: 8/19/2023
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14y ago

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One who is fully developed and mature, "all grown up", is an adult. Individuals grow up differently, and many factors determine how quickly and at what age a child borne has grown up into an adult. To further cloud the issue of adulthood, there are various pieces of legislation that define adulthood at a certain age, i.e. 21 years of age as the legal age of consent or adulthood. This sort of "law" or legislation betrays it's own dubious and arbitrary nature, when legislation is repealed or amended to lower the age of consent, i.e. 18 years of age is now the "legal" age in which one becomes an adult. The actual age in which one becomes an adult varies from individual to individual and often times external circumstances, such as environment and social opportunity, have as much to do with defining an adult as does anatomy.

The journey into adulthood is taken by all those who survive their childhood. But, surviving childhood doesn't guarantee safe passage into adulthood. Some reach it sooner than others, and perhaps some never arrive to a truly fully developed and mature being regardless of how old they live to be. Joan of Arc was only 16 years old when she led the French army to victory. Young yet very much adult. Adult yet still just a little girl. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his first concerto at the age of 5 and was renowned as a musical genius but by all accounts never grew into adult hood even leading up towards his death, remaining childish and boorish as if he were an idiot savant. Even those who've long settled into adulthood will find their opportunities to relish the childishness inside us all. If this were not true, The Three Stooges would be long forgotten and fart jokes wouldn't proliferate modern entertainment. Fathers wouldn't embarrass their children by encouraging their friends who come to visit, to "pull my finger". Hardly a model of adult behavior. Ironically too many fart jokes, too much silliness combined with violent temper tantrums will garner an adult only rating on movies. The more childish adults act in film the more likely it will be viewed as an adult themed movie with mature content.

As children we, quite rightly, perceive ourselves as the center of the universe. When we become more cognitive of the world around us we at some point come to understand that we are, (most likely), not the center of the universe. It is this simple paradigm shift that propels us towards adult hood. We grow up awkwardly and knowingly or unknowingly trod and plod through our rites of passage. Through out the world, in multitudes of cultures past and present, we as individuals tend to share the same rites of passage. We are born, we are christened or baptized or anointed or even circumcised, but we have known, however remotely, a rite of passage. Many will grow up to experience a First Communion, or a Bar Mitzvah or some other religious or spiritual event orchestrated to signify a rite of passage. For some it will be graduating from Cub Scout, to Boy Scout, to Eagle Scout, for most there will be an obvious rite of passage during our graduation day as we remember those tumultuous teen years, while simultaneously looking towards a hopeful future. Many of us will survive long enough to marry, creating a bond by which we shed our individual persona in order to become a couple wed together by sacred bond and marriage, it is a common rite of passage. We marry to create a family, most of us, and this creation of family brings us towards renewed celebration of birth, and we experience the rights of passage of our children as we ourselves continue to experience our own as we find ourselves tragically attending funerals in between our celebrations of birth. These rites of passage are not what makes us adults. They are the rituals we perform to honor our journey into adulthood, but when we become adult depends largely on how we handle ourselves during and in between these rites of passage.

As a children we could not accept responsibility for our actions so our parents or parental figures accepted that responsibility for us. That accepting of responsibility for others who can not is part of what it means to be an adult. As children we grow old enough to begin accepting responsibility for ourselves in many ways as we dress ourselves, brush our teeth all by ourselves and even make our own beds. But when we begin to accept responsibility for those actions or events that were not even caused by us but still demand someone take responsibility, then the full weight and burden of adulthood is intimately known and while the journey not necessarily over, the ability to accept responsibility for ourselves and others, the ability to be causative in the face of tragic events, and the ability to act rationally and reasonably with measured calm is what it means to be adult and I swear to all now, I have seen this behavior in children no older than two years old, and waited in vain to see it in "grown ups" long past their physical prime.

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14y ago
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9y ago

In most places you have to be 18. There are a few states in the US where it is 19 or 21.

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