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What Does “Adulthood” Really Mean?

Sophia Neilson ’23
The Oxford English Dictionary defines adulthood as “the state or condition of being fully grown or mature,” but what does that really mean?
Across the world, the point at which you become an adult largely falls between the ages of 15 and 21, with 18 being the most common. Here in the United States, adulthood seems to be split between two ages: 18 and 21. When you turn 18, you can vote, join the military, sign a contract, change your name, be summoned for jury duty, apply for a credit card, and much more. However, you still haven’t unlocked many of the abilities that we consider to be synonymous with adulthood within the U.S.: You can’t purchase or consume alcohol, buy or use cigarettes or vapes, gamble at a casino, sit at a bar, or get a horizontal driver’s license in Connecticut until you’re 21.

Writing this article mere days before my 18th birthday, all of these rights and obligations are fresh in my mind. When I wake up on my birthday, I will suddenly be able to do all of these legal adult things, but I won’t feel any different than I did only a day before. So why do we put all of this pressure on teenagers, many of whom are still in high school, once they turn 18? What suddenly changes overnight that will make me more of an adult when I’m 18 than I was when I was 17? If we held off on some of these major responsibilities until 21, we’d avoid putting excess pressure on teenagers, many of whom aren’t ready to be an “adult.”  
While some 18-year-olds are mature enough to handle adult obligations, many are not. 

Lately, I’ve been asked by several family members, and even some friends, if I’m excited about becoming an adult. The answer is both yes and no. While I am excited to enter a new chapter of my life, I don’t feel ready to leave behind my childhood, and the many years of being considered a child. It feels like overnight there are all of these responsibilities and pressures that society puts on you, all while still feeling like a kid. 
What makes us decide that 18 year olds are adults? A majority of these fresh adults are still living at home with their parents, attending high school, and don’t have the knowledge and responsibility necessary to do all of the things that are suddenly not only open for us to do, but that are expected. Like many of my peers, I don’t feel ready to be considered an adult. Society has selected all these important responsibilities to give to 18 year olds, while leaving many of the more fun abilities for three years later. It can feel like there is nothing but pressure around turning 18 – making it a very intimidating time, at least for me. I’m not ready to give up being a teenager and making stupid choices sometimes. I’d say most 18 year olds aren’t ready to give that up. 

18 year olds aren’t adults; they are teenagers just the same as they were when they were 17. There is no magical adulthood fairy who comes to visit you on the night of your 18th birthday, suddenly granting you wisdom, responsibility, and good decision-making skills. You don’t suddenly become grown and mature, and you most definitely don’t have to leave behind being a kid and enjoying not having all of the adult responsibilities you’ll face the rest of your life. While it can seem daunting suddenly having the ability to do all of these grown-up things, you don’t need to rush to do any of them. Allow yourself to still enjoy “being a kid” just a little while longer, while you still have the opportunity. Before you know it, you’ll be living on your own, unable to run and hide from adulthood. Enjoy being dumb with your friends, and living under your parents’ roofs. Don’t feel the need to grow up overnight – live in the moment – because someday soon, it’ll all change.
Editor in Chief 
Asher Joseph

Managing Editor 
Margaret Russell

Claire Billings
Jo Reymond
Rose Porosoff
Eric Roberts
Abby Rakotomavo
Elona Spiewak
Veena Scholand
Miriam Levin
Liliana Dumas
Saisha Ghai
Olivia Yu
Anya Mahajan
Rain Zeng
Winter Szarabajka
Aerin O'Brien

Karun Srihari
Samantha Bernstein
Hana Beauregard
Micah Betts
Elaina Paktuka
Edel Lee
Anjali van Bladel
Nate Gerber
Rebecca Li

Hailey Willey
Web Editors
Amelia Hudonogov-Foster
Anvi Pathak
Chloe Wang

Faculty Advisers
Stephen May
Elizabeth Gleason
Shanti Madison
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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