I turned 21 recently. Although I've been living it up ever since, consistently ordering beers and margaritas with my meals, I've also been haunted by a painful reality:
I am not a child anymore.
This is a fact that most people are quick to recognize; they fight for that truth to arrive and fake it if it hasn't. But our society lacks a clear definition for the difference between child and adult. It used to be when a girl had her period she became a woman. Now, not even losing your virginity guarantees that transformation. Some nations send their boys on spirit quests - if you survive, welcome back sir.
Our lines between the two descriptions have blurred. At 18, I went off to college. I ceased to have a curfew, I spent weeks without talking to my parents, and my educational success became entirely up to me. However, my parents still paid my bills, sent me money when I became broke, and called up and lectured my brother when we fought. How could that possibly be described as the circumstances of adulthood?
But I think I'm there now. School is getting hard. It requires more energy of me, energy that I'm not willing to give. But I give it anyway. Money is becoming a serious concern. I'll be working two jobs this summer, with any luck. I went on a road trip this weekend and realized that no one back home knew I had left.
The biggest sign, however, was that no one coddled me when I went to the emergency room Monday morning. And rather than feeling abandoned or unloved, I was glad for the space. I relished the time alone I had to deal with reality.
So there it is. I'm not a child anymore. I am an adult, I am responsible for myself, and I am glad to have finally arrived.