There Is No Such Thing As An Adult

How toxic ideas about maturity become a barrier to human virtues like understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, kindness and charity.

Every culture on Earth has some version of the concept of becoming an ‘adult’. However those concepts vary wildly in what life event(s) mark this transformation. Where some cultures consider landmarks of the physical development of the individual, others cite intellectual or spiritual growth as a deciding factor, while yet others assign an arbitrary time based on individual age or annual local customs. Where some females are considered to have ‘come of age’ upon reaching their first menses, regardless of age, other cultures legally prohibit ‘adult behaviors’ for people in their early to mid twenties.

With some exceptions, cultures bound by laws tend to have later entry points into adulthood, where cultures bound by ritual often have earlier ‘advancement’. As law-bound societies replace ritual-bound ones, the maturity finish line gets pushed later into life. While there may be some good reason to be critical of the stunting of adulthood, it might actually be better if we abandoned the concept all together.

What might be universal about becoming an adult is it marks a point in life when the individual is no longer considered vulnerable and is expected to get their shit together. I submit to you that this never actually happens, and that the belief that it does allows us to discount our vulnerabilities instead of recognizing and responding to them with the best that human beings have to offer.

The first thing one needs to understand when considering other people is that there are no ‘bad guys’ in the world, there are just people reacting to their own vulnerabilities in ways that compromise themselves and others. This is indeed an unfortunate circumstance that arises far too often, but it is not intrinsic to human individuals or humanity in general. We are not stuck in some unbearable situation, and there are choices we can make to break the cycle and work towards greater amounts of harmony.

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