I hope that is the case. Because otherwise, I have no idea how I’m going to become a real adult.
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When can we call ourselves real adults?
Legally, Filipinos reach the age of majority and become adults at eighteen. In practice, most Filipino parents start treating their children as adults when they graduate and start their careers. But as someone past the age of eighteen and already working for several years, I still don’t feel like a real adult.
I’m not the only one feeling this. Looking at other people’s feelings online or following the stories of my friends and former classmates, it seems that adult status is one we cannot fully grasp. Whenever I share these thoughts with people older than me, there’s one thing they always say: “But you’re still so young.”
Still so young
I’d bet that phrase is something most of us have heard at least once after talking about our woes as adults.
It’s universal enough that Kayleen Schaefer, in her book But you’re still so young: how 30-somethings are redefining adulthood, focuses on unpacking this charged phrase and developing the concept of adulthood in contemporary times.
The book is a compilation of different stories shared by thirtysomethings. Each chapter discusses one of the stages that sociologists have identified as the markers of adulthood: 1) finishing school, 2) leaving home, 3) getting married, 4) becoming financially independent, and 5) having a kid.
We are therefore redefining the milestones
While the book’s chapters revolve around markers of adulthood, it subverts them by showing how our generation has passed milestones.
The “Leaving Home” chapter is the one I found particularly relevant. Schaefer notes that the majority of people who shared their stories in the book returned home at some point in their 20s and 30s – a particularly striking behavior as the people in the book were mostly from the United States, where it is normal to move after high school. It’s something I did at the start of the pandemic, and I think most of my generation went through it as well.
“Beyond living with your parents beyond a certain age, generally anything that seems to delay adulthood is viewed negatively,” Schaefer wrote. Throughout the book, it becomes clear that it’s this idea of breaking time constraints that makes us fear we’re not adult enough.
But we are already in the middle of all these delays. What are we doing?
And we share our stories
This is a personal answer to the question I just asked. I believe sharing stories is key. Much like what Schaefer has accomplished in his book, collecting stories from other people in their twenties and thirties seems like the answer to our concerns about not being adult enough.
When we listen to or read the stories of other people our age, our experiences become the new normal. These stories legitimize the changes we are going through due to new factors that previous generations did not have, such as the pandemic.
As mentioned earlier, many people of our generation have returned home. We get married later. If we don’t share our stories, many of us would continue to think that our experiences were cause for concern.
So, can reading adulthood books help you become an adult? I answer wholeheartedly “yes!” With the help of books written by people also trying to figure out who they are, I realized that reaching adulthood is no longer just about checking off the five markers older generations have identified.
Schaefer said it best: “Adulthood no longer has to follow a strict order. Nothing is required, but it also makes everything unfamiliar. It’s a good thing that we found each other to help us reach full adult status. – Rappler.com