To be fair, I've been wanting something different for a while now. I did not redo the background because of the new year. But I finally made a decision, and it happened to be today. Thoughts?
I've been thinking a lot lately about adulthood, and how you get there. That sounds like an excellent book title: Adulthood, and How You Get There. Maybe I'll pitch it to someone. (Ryan Adkins? You can claim it first.)
So I've been thinking about adulthood. Perhaps I am wrong in my thinking, I have never lived in another time. But from what I've read, it seems to me that in the past---I'm talking 1700s, 1800s---children went to school, did chores, chose a trade and became some sort of apprentice (or for a few went to college), and then got married somewhere between 17 and 25 and immediately started their own family. Even if they weren't married, between 17 and 25 it seems that most men, at least, began their own farms, or began their own carpentry businesses, or whatever profession it was that they chose, and they were considered men and adults with full responsibility like anyone else. Even teenagers were often treated as adults and expected to be responsible for a variety of things. Again, I'm basing these assumptions off books, but I suspect that for the most part I am right. From what I read and hear from people like my grandparents, it seems this would extend into the mid-1900s as well.
But here we are in 2011. I, and most of the people I associate with, are in that bracket of individuals I mentioned, 17 to 25. (Maybe push it to 30.) I've been there for some time now. I started BYU at 17 (almost 18) and although I felt excited and independent, I did not feel like an adult. I went halfway around the world to Jerusalem at 20. Again, feelings of excitement and independence, but not adulthood. I've had a variety of employment, I received my Bachelor's degree, I began graduate school, I took out student loans. I still don't feel like I've reached adulthood. I don't think this is a phenomenon unique to myself; others of my age feel the same way. Why is that? Is it perpetual student status? Being single rather than married? The fact that I am not yet 100% financially independent from my parents?
Or perhaps our society has created this feeling. I don't think it's intentional, or even really realized. But I feel like someone who was 22 in 1811 would know that they were an adult and (hopefully) act accordingly. They went from childhood to adulthood, and that was that. Now you go from childhood to pre-teen to teenage/adolescent to young adult to adult. And I think the young adult range is widening and widening. There is a floating period where people don't feel like they have to be responsible yet. Or you don't qualify as an adult until you're out of school and have a job---but not just a job, something that functions as a potential career. If you don't have benefits and a 5-year plan then it doesn't count. Or you don't qualify until you are married, or have children. Or you don't qualify until you reach all of those marks.
Or maybe it's something else entirely. Maybe this is something every person just figures out on their own. Maybe I won't feel like an adult until I'm 37 and suddenly one morning I'll wake up and realize that I am. I don't know. Maybe it wasn't as simple and clear-cut in 1811 as I think it was. But it's been on my mind. And I'm curious to know when I'll eventually phase out of this transition phase.