Adolescence itself is the period following the onset of puberty, during which a young person develops from a child into an adult. We all know about adolescence. Aside from us personally experiencing it, countless coming-of-age movies and shows cover it. Most of the other major life changes are covered as well. Growing up is a thing collectively charted to great detail.
Starting as an only child to then having a sibling is one life stage found in films like Boss Baby and The Tree of Life. Both movies go through all the emotions that come with such an event… in their own way. Other stages are covered like making friends for the first time and navigating elementary school. Then having your first crush, and dramas in your friends’ group. Another is dealing with puberty in all of its insanity! Then one more extensively covered is trying to lose one’s virginity, like in Super Bad. Finally is the aspect of graduating high school with the future world looming over you and your friends.
All of these things cause radical inner turbulence and make for amazing story-telling, but one major life change that I feel gets covered very narrowly, (usually like in a montage,) is the ending of adolescence. Generally, the other major life changes are pretty uniform. First words, first walk, first friends, first day at school, first crush, and puberty; everyone goes through these beats in one way or another, but would it be crazy to think that not everybody passes through the milestone of adulthood completely? We’ve all heard of the people that peeked in high school, or in general I’m sure we’ve all come across adults that make us ashamed to be their peer.
Major societal life milestones are getting a job, getting a house, settling down with a spouse, and having children. While none of these are needed to mature to adulthood, they help par the course. The period of time between leaving school and making your way to independence is a tough road to walk. The future holds so many possible paths. A film that covers this period in its own unique way is The Social Network. But, something stopping this film from being a prime example of one leaving their adolescence for all to lean on is how Zucc has lived; in other words it’s not very relatable.
There are other films out there like the classic: Clerks, that are about young adults in the in between of still being a kid and being middle-aged. If anything, Clerks seems to be the blueprint for such a vague stage of life. We’re given a protagonist that’s down and out on their luck that hasn’t made much of themselves once leaving the nest, if they’ve even done that, and they find themselves stuck at that beginning ADULT milestone on the road of life. Then an inciting incident begins their journey to help them out of said rut. Now the only issue with this premise is that it can apply to any adult from 30 to 60. The new Bill and Ted movie coming out has that exact premise.
So is it just a thing that some people don’t necessarily grow up all the way? Well of course, humans are complicated, and external milestones don’t really tell us if an individual is a mature person per se, just that they did something other people that ARE mature have done. Someone can get a job, a house, get married, and have children, and still be standing at adolescence’s door. So our system at its core isn’t fool proof, but maturing usually means: coming to terms with or understanding our place in society as a whole, deciding in what way we wish to contribute to society, finding a mate or partner to love and parse life’s challenges with (like finding a home), then usually but not always either having children or adopting.
Why are there not more stories being told about the period or stage of all our lives when we leave our nest, or find our career job, or finish college or university? We all go through our twenties with way more variety than we all go through our teens, by the mere situation of our educational system, but its still a period of great growth for us all. Ending adolescence is the internal shift from taking orders to giving them, or from co-dependence to independence. It is the realization of our position as adults in society, no longer in school or under our parents’ rule. Ending adolescence doesn’t mean no longer being able to have fun or act wacky, it just means rising to the task of taking responsibility.
How are you guys, the readers, doing with life? Am I off-base with any of my thoughts on ending adolescence? What was it like for you to shift into adulthood, and when did it happen? Was finding your career a major milestone, or having your first child? Let me know anywhere you can comment! Thank you as always for taking your time to read. I truly appreciate and love you all! I wish you nothing but the best, and until next time, keep on thinkin’!