Am I a Baby?

Here’s an interesting concept: Adulthood. Most—not all—countries these days set its age to 18. Suffice it to say the specific threshold is arbitrary, but it’s always relatively young, around puberty or a few years later. I officially became an adult at 18, and I felt like I peeked that day. It wasn’t so much a peek, actually, as a high plateau, with nothing higher in sight.

First I was a baby, then a child, then an adult. From there the next milestone is old age, and that certainly didn’t seem like an upgrade. As an adult I was responsible for myself and equal to others in the eye of  the law. I had all the tools I needed to face life, and they were sharp as hell.

But just because we all agree 18 is when we reach maximum maturity—or close enough—doesn’t make it so. And it’s pretty funny that the people who chose the limit happened to be above it. Ask a toddler at what age they think they should be put in charge and they may decide they’re ready. Ask a teenager.

If it appears that I’m advocating for a lower age of majority, I’m not. But I am that teenager, or that toddler, in that I don’t know what it’s like to be wiser than I am today. We never do until we experience it for ourselves. And therefore I could be wrong to assume I have peeked.

Adulthood, as we define it today, is a useful concept. I vote for keeping it. But I’m letting go of the idea that it’s a peek, or that it’s a place from which we can observe it.

Perhaps I am, on the whole, still a baby. Perhaps I will blossom in old age, hopefully many times over. Perhaps this form is, in fact, still a fetus, largely unaware of what lies beyond.