Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Adulthood, continued

I received a bunch of responses to the post regarding adulthood. Just thought it would be interesting to post some of them.

I think being an adult involves being responsible for your own choices, but also realizing that you can't rely on other people for every aspect of your life. One of the defining aspects of childhood is that you rely on other people for everything: food, clothing, emotional support, education, etc. Becoming an adult is the process of shrugging off some of these things that are done for you and taking them on yourself.

However, that doesn't mean you have to shrug off *all* the things people do for you. For example, love, whether it is familial or intimate, is something that people do not easily give up. Having your family there to support you when things go bad is not a sign of childhood either. I think an interesting aspect of adulthood is that you are sometimes expected to ask for help from others, but the catch is that they have to be able to ask you for help too.

Obviously, it's an amorphous concept, but look at the people we consider childish. They're the ones who expect the world to revolve around them. I just think adulthood is that point one reaches where they realize they are part of a bigger community and that they must contribute to their own survival. It can happen for different people at different times, but putting off the final leap makes sense, I guess. Being an adult is
scary. :)

To me, it's when you really start to think and care about the consequences of your actions, and how they affect people that mean something to you.

As a person that has trying to "be an adult" (at least, out of school, on my own, paying my own way, etc.) and will soon be giving all that up to go back to school in September, it seems to me that adulthood isn't something that magically flips on, but sneaks up on you gradually. You no longer think of yourself as tied to your parents, and are related to as a person in your own right. What you do becomes more important than where you are from, and, yes, people do expect you to make decisions for yourself. Really, eventually, it is a state of mind where you do feel like yes, you are running your own life. When you get there, it isn't a bad feeling, but one of satisfaction - you get to choose the life you have.

No, we should not avoid being adults. Adulthood is inevitable. Sure, you can still act like a child, but eventually you are going to be forced to be an adult.

And in some situations that is good.

When it comes to making serious decisions, one must be an adult, act non-selfishly and rationally. Children are unable to do this on the same level as adults. When dealing with serious agendas, your health, your livelihood, and the financial success of your family, you must act in a manner that is responsible, logical, and consistent. You cannot immediately deal with your own feelings when acting as an adult; you must consider others and their well-being, such as when you must care for a child, or an elder.

Although, you’re right, just being in these situations does not make you an adult. Some people deal with adult matters in a childlike way. I am going to assume that it is because they are scared and don’t want to risk making the wrong decisions and become unable (or so they think) to deal with the matter in a way that is appropriate. Death, Finances, Marriage, Divorce, Children, Health, and so on and so forth, these are issues when you must be an adult. You must stand up and be strong, even when it is not easy. So, it is essential that you act like an adult... sometimes.


Children are pure, inquisitive, live in the moment and love life. They are uncensored and fun. If they want to go play in the mud, they do. They don’t care what the neighbors will think, or if this will cause them to neglect something else. They play in the mud, because they desire to play in the mud, and when they get sick of playing in the mud. They stop. Children are passionate and full of heart, they blaze their own trail. So be a child, experience life in its most pure sense; when it’s feasible.

But be an adult too, know what your responsibilities are and embrace them. Enjoy making your own way. Care about others. It is powerful to know that you have reached adulthood and are capable of being an adult, and you are, but never lose your inner child.