As a millennial who barely made the cut off in 1996, I constantly find myself deciding whether or not I want to be counted with my generation. However, after working all summer in an office with coworkers at least 10 years older (or more often my parents’ ages), I suppose I will concede and succumb to the stereotypes assumed of my age.
First and foremost, as a millennial, I attach “ing” to many nouns in an attempt to make them verbs and communicate with my generation. We commonly insert words like texting, emailing, lifing and, my personal favorite, adulting, into our daily conversations. Trust me, after living on a college campus for the past three years, I am well acquainted with the language of my peers.
When discussing life, future and purpose with my friends about to graduate from GCU alongside me, we often laugh and say things like, “Real adulting sounds hard” or “I’m not ready to adult just yet.” This seems perfectly illogical because anyone over 18 has already been living as a legal adult for some time now.
But there is a greater question being asked: When do I achieve the status of a real adult?
As a 21-year-old student, I am an adult by definition. I am responsible for my own life and decisions. I can drive a car, vote, gamble, consume alcohol, marry, work, pay taxes and determine where to commit my time. Yet, I do not believe I have achieved the status of a real adult. To my family, I am the youngest child; to society, I am an inexperienced worker; to my friends, I am a student living on campus; to my coworkers, I am an intern; and to the rather tired waitress, I am just another separate check who spends way too long catching up with friends.
Again, I ask, “When do I become a real adult?”
Is it the moment that I do not need advice from my parents and mentors? Is it the day I stand before my loved ones in a white dress, committing to love a man selflessly as Christ has loved me? Is it when I look down and gently kiss my child on the forehead? Is it the first time I pay my mortgage? Is it the first time I pull out a gray hair from my head? Is it when I look back and see I have lived over half a century? Is it determined by how others think of me or rather how I think of myself?
Regardless of what generation has claimed your identity, I think it is clear that the concept of a real adult, one who has achieved the seniority and wisdom of age, is just as elusive to grasp as time itself. In fact, as I continue to ponder and relentlessly grow and strive for this status, the less I want to attain it. While it is hard to pinpoint when someone becomes a real adult, that title means you have made it and must simply look back at days gone by.
In this case, I do not want to become a real adult because making decisions each day that grow my character and responsibility in this world is a journey that I never want to finish. I will admit wholeheartedly and with a smile on my face that I do not have all the answers, nor have I arrived at the maturity of generations ahead of me. But there is undeniable freedom to learn, grow and develop when you merely assume that you have never fully reached who you are striving to become.
I will graduate in December 2017 with a diploma, 21 years of experience and a heart full of passion to pursue the Lord in this illusive journey of growing up.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.