Tonight, We Are Young

One of my favorite songs (We Are Young by Fun) is a ballad directed right at adulthood. It reinforces this fact: adulthood is not a certain age range or period of your life, but it is simply a mindset that you have to grow into. Let’s look at what we know. For most states, the legal adult age is 18, but I’m sure many of us know individuals who have been mature before this age and/or after this age. How can we explain those who are working and supporting themselves at 16 or 17? What about those who still live with their parents at 28? It’s easy really: you simply become an adult when you are mentally ready to be one.

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Shakar said it best, but now its time to back it up. Though society wants to have this generalized idea about adulthood and when it occurs, it’s impossible for everyone to mature at the same time. Many consider the graduation of an individual from high school as the start of adulthood, some consider the start of college or their transition into the workforce, others consider college graduation, and, legally, all have to consider reaching the age of 18. That right there is already four different ideas of when adulthood begins, and many don’t/can’t coincide with each other. For example, what if a student gets held back a year or two in school? Originally that student could’ve graduated at 17, but now they are looking at being 19 before walking across the coveted stage. This is where the debate gets muddy, for now instead of a child going through an end of childhood event, you have a legal adult going through an end of childhood event.

Nola Ochs, front, adds to a discussion during a current political issues class at Fort Hays State University, Monday, April 23, 2007 in Hays, Kan. At age 95, Ochs will become the world's oldest college graduate when she graduates May 12. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

So where exactly is the line drawn? I think each individual person has to decide that for themselves. Personally, I do not believe I am an adult yet simply because I still survive financially off my parents, I do not own a house, and I do not have a full time job (you can find me however in the Georgia Dome at Atlanta Falcons home games). This applies to me and me only, for there are at least 400 other kids just in my graduating class alone at my high school who are vastly different from me.

As we continue to develop mentally and physically, we can soon begin to make decisions for ourselves. As risky as this sounds, one of those decisions is choosing when to be an adult. Of course it’s not some flick of the switch as it does take some time an effort, but as the song suggests in the title, it is very possible to switch between being a responsible adult and being a carefree youth.

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2 Responses to Tonight, We Are Young

  1. Reuben Jones says:

    The song, “Tonight, We are Young,” is one of my favorite songs as well, and, although I have listened to it many times, I never listened to the lyrics closely. Looking back on the song after reading your blog I found a new appreciation for it. You mentioned the idea that someone can switch their mindset to being one of a teen or adult and that is completely supported by the style and lyrics of the song. “We are young, So let’s set the world on fire, We can burn brighter than the sun.” Clearly Nate Russell is what many would consider an adult and most of his songs the lyrics are deep and intense, while here it is completely youthful. All this to say, I agree with you that adulthood and youth can be a state of mind and think your example of FUN’s song was a great choice.

  2. Owen Rosini says:

    I agree with your point that there should not be a physical standard to achieve or a life checkpoint to complete for someone to be considered an adult. Like you state, if you were to define adulthood by these means, you could be wrongly excluding all of the younger people who behave like adults or falsely including all of the older people who behave like children. However, I do feel that there has to be more rigidity to the definition of adulthood. What makes someone “mentally ready” to define themselves as an adult or not? Many will argue that a number of mental characteristics signify a person is an adult. For example, I believe the key characteristics are personal independence and responsibility. Nevertheless, there should be more specific criteria as to what makes someone ready to declare themselves an adult or not. A forty-year-old who still relies on his parents for his or her own survival should not be able to get up one day and declare his or her adulthood because he or she suddenly feels like it. There should be more concrete requirements for the mental maturities a person must attain in order to decide that he or she is an adult. But on a separate and final note, I found your suggestion that people can be “adult-fluid” fascinating, as I too believe that it is possible for people of all ages to fluctuate between the definitions of adult and child at multiple points throughout their lives.

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