Anthropology Study: What Three Things Do You Think Makes Someone An Adult?

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I was asked the question "What do you think makes an American an adult? First and foremost, I think certain characteristics can happen outside the American cultural way, so it was fascinating to think my viewpoint is on par with many non western cultures.

I’ve experienced more things many people will in a lifetime. At age 18 I was right off to college to study Gerontology. This wasn’t something I wanted to do and my grades showed this. I joined a Sorority, fraternized, and drank. I almost flunked out. I contacted my mother and said; “before I came here I told you I wanted to go to culinary school”. That’s what I want and that’s why I came home.

I attended culinary school for several years and worked as a chef in high paced Italian restaurants until I was old enough and had the money to buy my own. At 24, I owned Pizzeria Corleone in Mount Dora, and a second in Umatilla at 25. I ran the restaurants until the economy bottomed out. I lost everything.

I decided to make a huge decision and be responsible. I went back to school. It’s been the best decision I ever made and it made me even more mature, it prioritized my life, and opened up my eyes to my responsibilities as an adult.

The word "adult" can be characterized very differently, person to person. It could mean a rite of passage into a sorority, fraternity, or brotherhood. It can mean having a child and it also mean how you're able to deal with the loss of someone.

I was asked the question "What do you think makes an American an adult? First and foremost, I think certain characteristics can happen outside the American cultural way, so it was fascinating to think my viewpoint is on par with many non western cultures.

Maturity: The biggest misconception I think about maturity is hitting those so called hurdles in your life and how you approach them. When I reached the age of eighteen, technically I was supposed to be an adult. I could buy cigarettes legally, vote, drive, etc. Did this make me an adult? Not even close. Having the right to buy a legal narcotic or vote for a candidate you know nothing or care little about doesn’t make you an adult. However, once I took the active approach to know the repercussions for choosing to smoke, vote, or drive, and I consciously tried to make the right choices when doing so. I weigh the pros and cons of my choices, how my choices affect others not just myself, and what are the benefits. I think when I arrived at the “it’s not just about me” principle, I reached that so called maturity line of an adult.

Prioritize: Priority to me as an adult means placing what I believe is most important and beneficial to myself and to others first. When I was eighteen, I knew nothing about what was really important. I went to a university right out of college and placed fraternizing and drinking before anything else. School meant nothing, however in my defense I don’t think I was ready. I feel as though I was forced to attend a school for a degree I had no passion for, and in that event, I failed miserably. It’s hard to prioritize your life when you find it hard to find the value in what you’re doing. Once I returned back home and started to attend a school for a degree important to me, I found it easier to make better choices. I placed studying in front of drinking, set up my own archaeology Website I could maintain on the weekends to keep me focused, and I started to save money for the future. At 33, I’m now an A student, as opposed to a C or D student, I don’t drink, I don’t spend money on things I really don’t need, and I actually act like an adult. As opposed to the many students in my classes that are 18 and haven’t found that happy medium as of yet. It’s funny really. I look at them and think “was I really that unfocused”?

Responsibility: This is a tough one. It took me some time to realize I had to take responsibility for every decision I made. In fact, I don’t think I reached the point of a “responsible adult” until about 24. I owned my first house, and bought a restaurant and then a second when I was 25. At this point I had a heavy burden with the house payment, trying to pay it on time every month. I had employees I had to take care of, making sure they received their checks on time every week. I was responsible for sales tax, payroll, ordering, scheduling, designing a menu, cooking 12 hours a day, counting money, etc. This will push you right into maturity and make you responsible for things that can affect everyone as well as yourself. I had to be responsible for late payments to vendors, if I had any. I had to correct and take responsibility for payroll errors. The key to this is, if you are willing to assume the responsibility for those things that affect yourself as well as others, which I was, this characterizes you an adult.

If some asked you What Three Things Do You Think Makes Someone An Adult? What would you say?

Also check out:

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Anthropology Study: Do You Believe In The Unseen World?

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Lauren Axelrod
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Lauren Axelrod

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