How far is the gap between being a ‘kid’ and being an ‘adult’? And more importantly, when exactly do we make the jump?
Of course, it’s easy to define the terms ‘child’ and ‘adult’ using numbers. It’s much simpler to say that someone’s a child if they’re below 18 years of age, and someone’s an adult if they’re anything older. Still, can an 18-year-old really consider themself an adult if they still rely on a credit card linked to a parent’s account for all their purchases? Or if they don’t know how to make a trip to the marketplace, or to the bank? Doesn’t it make more sense to base the idea of adulthood on the criteria of independence and life skills?
As the youngest among six siblings, I’ve always been used to being babied by my parents, who were always frankly on the overprotective side. And coming from such a sheltered environment, I’ve always been surprised and slightly envious whenever my friends would talk about the freedom they enjoyed from their own guardians. One recent conversation struck me in particular as a friend talked about how he was entrusted by his parents to travel overseas by himself and attend to some business matters that needed taking care of. He further shared that he also owned his own business and paid for his own rent with the money earned. It surprised me because, at the end of the day, I still viewed myself as a ‘kid’. My friend, on the other hand, was only a few years ahead of me, and sounded very much like an adult.
It made me realize that even if I had just turned 18 a few months ago, I still had a long way to go in terms of growing up. I still found myself relying on my parents in so many ways; despite living by myself in a condominium along Taft Avenue, I didn’t take care of my own laundry, nor did I pay my own bills. At the same time, I was still unfamiliar with so many basic ‘skills’ like operating my own bank account, or commuting around Manila. I was already a college student, and yet I found myself still so dependent on my parents for so many things.
And I wasn’t the only one. From what I observed, other students suffered from the same sort of dependency. For example, instead of learning how to properly budget their money, several students have the tendency to just ask for more cash, or else rely on a credit card. Another example is how students rarely take the initiative in solving problems around the house. If the WiFi at home breaks down, students simply call and ask their parents to fix the problem, instead of searching for a solution themselves.
I feel like the root cause of this dependency is that several of us still view ourselves as kids, when as college students, we should already be striving towards that idea of independence and maturity. How many students can confidently commute by themselves around Manila, or do their own shopping in the marketplace? How many students can say they have their own source of income, or know how to pay their own bills? These are things that, I believe, we should be striving towards.
College is perhaps the best time in our life to ‘grow up’. There are so many opportunities within and around the University that can help give us that sense of independence which we should be taking advantage of. As such, we can’t afford to think of ourselves as kids anymore because, even if our parents still handle our basic necessities, we are at the age where we must slowly but surely become more and more self-sufficient. More than doing our own laundry or learning to invest in stocks, it’s building that mindset of maturity and independence that so many of us take for granted.
Of course, all this becomes difficult when your parents have a deathgrip on you. Some mothers and fathers are overprotective and don’t give their children much room to grow. Other times, it is simply a matter of circumstance that prevents people from making the required steps towards independence. All that is understandable. I’m not saying that upon stepping foot within the University, we should immediately start making plans to move out. Of course, as students, we will always rely on our guardians for most of our necessities. Still, it’s a good idea to, in whatever way possible, try to create that semblance of independence for ourselves. Overprotective parents or not, there will always be ways to move towards that idea of self-sufficiency – it is just up to us to take advantage of them.
Growing up is a lot of things – it’s the way we look at and react to the things around us, and the way we look at and react to ourselves. We need to make the most out of our stay in the University, and to do this, we need to start viewing ourselves as mature and capable adults. It almost seems like common sense to say it, but college is the perfect time for us to strive for independence. College is the perfect time to grow up.