When Do You Really Become an Adult?


Anna Odell, Staff Writer

In the U.S. a person legally becomes an adult at the age of 18. At this point in their life, they are seen as a more independent individual who has the freedom to make their own decisions in every aspect of their life. I believe that being a mature adult is a lot more complicated, and it goes beyond someone’s age. 

Those who have gone through traumatic experiences end up maturing faster than those who have not. Therefore, an adult is not just someone who is 18. I have met people who have gone through trauma and, in my experience, they are more mature than the ones who have not. This is because their experiences have forced them to grow up. They have seen a side of people, a side of the world, that isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. This, in turn, gives them an alternate perspective on life. To be able to understand this perspective, it only makes sense for them to be mature at a much younger age. 

“Children who suffer trauma from abuse or violence early in life show biological signs of aging faster than children who have never experienced adversity, according to new research,” said Science Daily.

People who haven’t experienced trauma have a more sheltered view of life. This isn’t a bad thing; however, they develop at a different rate than those who have gone through traumatic things. Emotional maturity is another aspect of being an adult. Whether a person’s traumatic event is big or small, they still gain a level of maturity that is absent in the lives of those who haven’t experienced trauma. 

Although you are able to vote, get a tattoo or piercing, and make decisions for yourself at 18, there are a lot of things you can’t do until you are older. Things that mature “adults” do. These things include drinking, buying a lighter, and paying certain bills. While you can move out when you’re 18, many people are still in high school at this time in their life and are not yet ready for that; therefore, most 18-year-olds do not have to pay specific bills. For example, college tuition is typically paid for by parents and most 18-year-olds do not have to pay bills for an apartment or a new home. 

Furthermore, drinking is seen as an adult activity. However, this is restricted to those who are at or above the age of 21. In Europe, the drinking age is lower than in the U.S. In my opinion, it makes more sense to have the drinking age be the same as the age you become an adult since it’s seen as an “adult activity”, as I previously stated. 

While drinking can be dangerous and young people might need to mature more before having that option, it does seem strange to have another limit on what legal adults can or can’t do. 

Adulthood should really be measured by maturity level rather than age and whether that be a test that is taken when a person is 18 or some other way of measuring maturity, that is how the government should tell if someone is an adult or not. Being an adult is a complicated matter that goes beyond just turning 18 and being able to do whatever you want. The options new adults have are still limited and some people mature faster than others. I believe that adulthood is a subjective matter. Once someone is able to drink, understand the realities of life, and is able to truly be independent, that is when they really become an adult. Although life gets more serious and you have more responsibilities once you turn 18, that doesn’t really mean you are at the maturity level of an adult.


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