Monday, October 27, 2014

What does it mean to be an adult?

When we are young, the only thing we want to be is older. We want to be 16 to drive. We want to be 18 (an adult by the law's standards.) We want to be 21 so we can drink alcohol. But, is that what really makes us an adult? The ability to drive a car or live to a certain age does not an adult make. Every person goes through a phase in their teens and twenties when they think they are an adult and making adult decisions. I know I did.

We all have those moments where it suddenly feels like you're an adult. Perhaps it was when you signed the loan paperwork to go to college or when you graduate and receive your degree. Maybe it was when you sent in your paperwork and registered for the Draft. Or, perhaps it was when you had ice cream and cookies for breakfast for the first and time no one yelled at you. Whether funny or not, these are the experiences that make us all feel like adults and they all have one thing in common - responsibility (yes, even the ice cream.)

Being an adult has nothing to do with having fun or being independent. Being an adult means one thing - taking on and understanding responsibility. When you sign loan paperwork, you're agreeing to repay thousands of dollars on a schedule in a timely manner. You're now responsible to the bank. When you filled out that draft card, you took on the duty of defending your country if need be and suddenly became responsible to Uncle Sam. That ice cream you had, well, you decided what to put into your body, and you'll be responsible for that later when health problems plague you.

Why am I thinking about this? In one week, I'm going to take on one of the biggest responsibilities of my life - signing my first mortgage and owning my first home. I'm now responsible to many, many, other people. I now have to think about how my actions affect my ability to pay the bank for the next 30 years. I need to keep my home maintained and become a responsible member of my neighborhood and community. That's what being an adult means - being responsible and dependable.

However, there is another aspect to this equation which may not be quickly apparent; the concept of personal responsibility. When you take on these duties of life, you also accept that you can and will be held accountable for the decisions you make. By owning a home, I know that I'm responsible for certain maintenance duties and taxes. When I became an officer in my Lodge, I knew that I had agreed to attend meetings, perform ritual, and help lead my Brothers. It no longer mattered if I felt like I needed to go to Lodge. My desire to attend ritual practice was no longer my choice. I had taken on the responsibility of doing so and it was now my responsibility to be there.

Of course, there is always a way out of responsibilities - quitting. You can quit making your loan payments at any time. You can quit taking care of your home at any time. You can quit eating ice cream at any time. But, what ramifications does that have? In the case of the ice cream,  probably pretty positive ones. In the case of the loan payments and the home, very negative. You can always quit anything - you just have to be willing to deal with the consequences of doing so. But, at the end of the day, what does quitting say about you? What does it say about your ability to be responsible and make good decisions? Does it show that you are an adult? That's what you have to contemplate.

Personal responsibility - you know you're truly an adult when you start acting with this idea in mind.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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