One of the things I’ve always wondered about is when does one become an adult? A what stage does one pass from being a child/teenager into being an adult. If you ask the law in Ireland it’s a simple answer, 18. But I wouldn’t consider most 18 year olds adults. Hell I don’t even think I was an adult at the age of 18. At the age of 22 I still don’t know if I’m really an adult. Sure I do adult things like have a job and pay rent, but does that make me an adult?
My dad once said that you weren’t a man until you had ten scars. I just about make that number thanks to a car accident, falling on a mountain hike and a few operations. But I didn’t wake up from the car accident (the newest of the scars) and go “Now I am a man!” While ripping off my hospital robes to reveal a burly chest bursting with muscles and hair. Rather I stood up and promptly sat back down lest I fell over thinking “Oh fuck my arm hurts”. So this definitely isn’t the method by which I measure my manhood and thus adulthood.
So let’s go further back. The first thing I’d associate with adulthood that came into my life was my second set of teeth. Which can show up as early as the age of 6. That’s waaay too early to be considered an adult. Most people finish growing their permanent teeth (excepting wisdom teeth) at about 13 years of age (One year older than the consent age in the Vatican until earlier this year). I was still in secondary school at this stage, actually this was a little before my first major depressive episode. I was a (mostly) carefree youth with no concept of what the world was really like… definitely not an adult. However this is around the same time that relationships suddenly became like a thing.
So, relationships… Well I’ve had a fair few of those but lets look at some of the firsts in relationships. There is the first kiss, like your first ever kiss. That’s got to be a big one, right? Well I can honestly say I can’t remember the first time I kissed a girl. I do remember the first time I met someone (kissing with tongue). It was just before first year of secondary school; I was playing a Scout card game, where one of the card results was you had to meet someone of the other players choice. That was a weird experience, peer pressure… yeah, looking back I’m surprised I even played the game, but that is another story. The first kiss in a relationship was at my own birthday party when my girlfriend at the time walked up to me out of the blue and planted one on me. I was shocked… beyond believe.
Before continuing I should explain something about how my brain works. There is a massive internal head conflict when it comes to girls and kissing and sex. (I’m sorry this may get vulgar). I’m assuming all guys feel the rush of wanting, of lust and blood boiling. That there is nothing in the world you want more than to take that girl next to you and take her now. It’s a feral and base emotion that is really strong and really tempting. (Non vulgar) It’s also a feeling that I hate having. It’s not that sex is bad and I shouldn’t have “impure” thoughts, but I dunno I feel like it’s too… barbaric. It makes me feel uncomfortable around anyone that sparks the feeling, and almost anyone could. Wear something a little revealing and well… I’ve felt this about people I’d just consider friends and wouldn’t be in a relationship with, just because I wouldn’t, I just don’t think of them that way, but occasionally my lizard brain slips in and… I can’t even type it.
So when I was blind sided by this kiss, I can tell you that I just wanted to grab her by the arm pull her in and lay into her (Kissing not sex, I was not that far gone). But I held it back because, that’s just barbaric right? So is that the adult thing to do? Ignore the more base impulses of human nature because it isn’t right? Did that make the like 12 year old me an adult? No it couldn’t have. I was such a child back then.
So what about after kissing? I guess that becomes sex and well… I’m not a virgin, but I had sex way earlier than I should have and with someone that I shouldn’t have. I won’t go into details but yeah it definitely was a mistake that I wish I hadn’t made. But it’s a mistake I learned from, so is that the start of adulthood? Learning from mistakes? I’ve been doing that since I was a kid. So it probably isn’t that, right?
Now we come to a fairly big topic. Mental health. In third year (I think I was like 14) I had my first major depressive episode. The world was not worth living in and nothing would change that, no matter how much people talked to me or tried to convince me otherwise. I was going through a lot that I had to learn to cope with. Some people may say it wasn’t a lot that I was going through, in fact some might say it was nothing. Those people are foolish, depression, the overwhelming feeling of worthlessness and miniscuality that was in my life at that time nearly killed me. To tell the truth I still deal with it, but I’ve got tools and friends to help me, when back then, while I had friends, I didn’t use them. One of my friends was surprised when I ended up in hospital until another one said that I’d been getting more and more sad practically every day, they just hadn’t noticed. But I got past it for the most part and I learned to deal with issues beyond the scope that I can understand or hope to actually beat. I’ve become a stronger person for it, even if it still plagues me it won’t beat me… so did that make me an adult?
It wasn’t long after my own depression episodes that I started to help other people. Not always with depression, but with anything that bothered them. For some people I gave relationship advice (not that they always follow it). For others it was just being there when they needed to talk. I wasn’t good at it, and I wouldn’t say I am now. But I do what I can to help people, even some I don’t know. I even made a friend in England cause one day I was reading a post on a webpage and thought “That sounds a lot like me, this person seems in a bad way, let’s talk to them and see if I can help”. Another friend went and got tested for Asperger’s Syndrome because of me, which as far as I know has helped her in her live vastly. But did this make me an adult?… N… Actually kinda yeah, I mean I was passing my experience onto people who needed it, form the age of like 15. One person even described me as the most immature mature person they know.
This line of thought first came up the day after moving out (for the second time; 5 days ago). When I looked into a mirror and asked “Am I an adult now?”. I think however the question is wrong. It’s not whether or not I’m an adult, it’s a question of when am I being responsible. I think that adulthood is stepping up and saying “I’m going to take this into my hands and do it right”. Be it cleaning up your room on a regular basis, or talking a friend down from doing something they may not live to regret. So right now, at this moment in time, I am not an adult. But if you need me to be one, I will.
I hope you enjoyed the read and I’ll see you again next time.