Opinion: Maturity is an illusion


University Student Graduation / Pasiedon / CC by 1.0

What makes us adults? Turning 18 and graduating high school may seem like the obvious answers, but true maturity does not come at one single event.

When you turn 18, a switch flips. Congratulations! Society has labeled you an adult, granting you the title every child dreams of. But what’s the cost of that switch?

Being mature means being responsible. It’s adulthood, where people do their taxes and get to work on time and make themselves dinner and know how to act. If you’re only 18, being mature is about picking the right college and then behaving yourself when you get there.

Teenagers will act mature when they think they know where they’re going to school or what they’re going to major in. They’ll pretend that spending time away from family is no big deal. And whether or not they’re going to college, they’ll act like they know what the future holds.

Everyone I know is turning 18, writing college essays, choosing majors, and deciding their futures. Many of us will be able to vote in the next presidential election. We all have the privilege of pretending we’re adults, but regardless of what the law says, none of us are.

About 30% of college students change their majors, and many students will apply to college undecided. We don’t really know what we want to do in life, but we’re still told we’re old enough to choose.

Our collective definition of maturity is off. We think we’re done growing up because the government says we can call ourselves adults. But growing up doesn’t ever end, and to think that we’re done when we turn 18 is to discount the journey life is.

The price of maturity is our childhood. Even though being 18 means we’re officially adults, I doubt many people feel they’ve truly grown up. While we’re still in high school, we need to spend more time being teenagers and balancing that with maturity. I think it’s possible to work hard and have fun, or to be mature and immature at the same time.

A lot of seniors are stressed as November deadlines come up, and yes, we should be spending time on college applications because they matter for our future. But we should also make an effort to spend time being teenagers and having fun, whatever that means to each of us.