What does it mean to be an adult? How does one become an adult? What is “adulting?” These are questions every child asks themselves as they get closer and closer to adulthood. Some fear it and others embrace it, but all know that growing up and becoming an adult is an inevitability, but they continue asking themselves, “What does it mean?”  

Throughout history, there were many rites of passage that one would take in order to become an adult. The Vikings of Scandinavia, for example, had to teach their boys how to hunt, fish, fight, be completely self-reliant while instilling the values of protecting one’s family. A very common method of gaining adulthood in various cultures in the past was simply getting married and raising a family of your own. In fact, this was so common and was present for so long, this belief is still embedded in the minds of many today. Another recent rite of passage into adulthood was getting your drivers license and finally experiencing a sense of freedom as you were finally able to drive around without relying on your parents for transportation.

However, many of these practices are being increasingly seen as more and more archaic. While still used in some cultures, there is no real need for one to learn how to hunt, fish, fight, or be nearly as self-reliant as they were in the past. An increasing number of modern young adults are forsaking marriage entirely [1], yet it never crosses the minds of many that they are still adults. Many modern teenagers on the way to adulthood are even forsaking something as mundane yet previous essential as a drivers license [2], which many would’ve considered unthinkable a few decades ago. This raises the question: is adulting a thing?

As time moves on, people change and cultures with it, and with the cultural change also comes changes in how one views adulthood. To be an adult in the modern era (in the United States), you don’t need to get married, have a family, move out (though this is encouraged in most households; it’s not technically the rite of passage it once was after the Boomerang generation [3]), get a license, or in some eyes do anything except age until you’re eighteen. Perhaps the act of adulting is a forever changing and developing concept, much like how perspectives and humanity as a whole evolve over time. Perhaps adulting was never actually an action, but rather just a currently accepted idea that was destined to change. I believe it’s time we stopped trying to put some arbitrary rites, and simply let the current generation become who they were meant to be. Don’t misunderstand me, some things children need to know from how to do taxes or pay bills in general, control their temperaments, get a job, and the likes. But that’s just it―teach and guide them―don’t force them into becoming something they don’t have any desire to be. There is no “adulting,” just becoming who you want and need to be.



  1. Gibson, William E. “Marriage Rates Rise for the Old, Decline for Young.” AARP, 19 Feb. 2018, www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2018/marriage-rates-fd.html.
  2. Henderson, Tim. “Why Many Teens Don’t Want to Get a Driver’s License.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 6 Mar. 2017, www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/many-teens-dont-want-get-drivers-license.
  3. “The Boomerang Generation.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 28 July 2015, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/03/15/the-boomerang-generation/.