Have you ever accomplished something that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood?
Which skills are inherently adult? Whether it’s making independent decisions, taking responsibility for one’s actions, or achieving a heightened degree of maturity, the mindset of an adult becomes difficult to categorize if we look to society for answers; perhaps the point at which adulthood’s reached by an individual cannot be pinpointed. What’s clear, however, is that the beginning of adulthood represents a major transition; it’s a milestone that gives birth to autonomy. To suggest that a single accomplishment could initiate the paramount change from childhood to adulthood is to, in my opinion, make an implausible claim. A more conceivable theory may be that a gradual series of events matures an individual. I’ve never accomplished anything that singly marked my transition from childhood to adulthood because such a transformation’s ongoing and thus, ill-suited for subjective analysis.
To illustrate, during the summer of 2013 I achieved metamorphosis that encompassed two distinct beats. The first in this series was the death of my awe-inspiring, beloved grandmother. Mourning the tragedy of her passing permanently altered my prospective outlook. That is, the cessation of a life so dear to me brought about a reconfigured awareness of what it means to be fortunate and quite simply, alive; I became a more humble and optimistic person by accepting my grandmother’s absence.
I spent much of that same substantive summer assisting with a Neuroscience project at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Syosset, New York. At the lab, I executed complex tasks. I trained animals to demonstrate complicated behaviors and built devices which monitor neuron activity in the brain’s auditory cortex; these proved to be the most advanced and fulfilling extra-curricular activities of my young adult life. Participation in the internship, which exposed me to the unfamiliar world of working scientists, shifted my basic frame of reference; I now wonder about everyday activities from a particularly clinical angle, whereas prior to working with neuroscientists, the way in which the brain interprets auditory signals had never provoked in me much investigative thought.
So, I find that the practice of specifically identifying one’s shift from childhood to adulthood is, in the end, an exercise in futility. After all, the label of “adult,” and most other labels of social rank, strike me as short-sighted. To split the whole of an individual’s life into two sections – childhood and adulthood – is to undermine the way in which a person spends an entire existence evolving into countless forms of character. For instance, an occurrence which may typically be considered acute, such as a train delay, can in fact completely alter someone’s life, and consequently, perspective. That is, if a given train delay causes one to arrive late for work, and if this delay sets into motion a series of increasingly devastating delays and related mishaps, then one might ultimately discover that the unpredictable nature of public transportation isn’t something which should be blindly accepted, but instead, carefully considered. Hence, rather than delineating between only two phases of my development, I opt to consider the segue into maturation as ongoing; representational, yes, but never absolute.