By Shelley Murphy
Next week, my youngest son starts his final semester of college. Before returning to campus, he rang in the New Year with close friends.
Each December, my son and his friends return home from their respective college campuses to reunite and join in the revelry of the holidays. And every year, I suggest the hype over New Year’s Eve is not worth the hysteria, but my son rejects my opinion, preferring a party.
The group of friends didn’t usher in 2019 by sharing past reflections or making future resolutions. Instead, they celebrated at midnight by shouting the rally cry, “This is our year!”
This year is the year my son and his friends graduate from college. They’re embarking on a revolutionary year, one sure to bring marked change in their lives.
In 2019, the world is their oyster—a time when anything seems possible. Their youthful spirits fuel their ambitions, and their academic educations support their aspirations.
Soon-to-be college graduates are preparing to complete their metamorphosis. The process starts after high school graduation, when the very hungry college kid hatches and leaves home.
Arriving at the new habitat, he survives on pizza and sheds his old skin in exchange for a new sheath. He spins himself into a protective collegiate cocoon, commencing the transformation.
Four years after his arrival on campus, the metamorphosis is complete. A young adult emerges ready to fly free and explore the wonders of the world.
Well, that’s the expectation, but college kids aren’t colorful butterflies. For many students, their college years are not, as promised, the “best years of your life.” And they are not ready to take flight.
Countless 20-somethings find themselves caught in limbo between adolescence and adulthood. They feel like they should be adults, but they’re not quite ready, or they doubt they’ve learned the skills to enter the grown-up world.
I remember, after graduating from college, facing the proverbial fork in the road and feeling a little lost. I’d earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism, yet I jumped at the first opportunity offered and accepted a job as a receptionist.
Navigating this uncertain transitional period is not new to young adults, but, thanks to social media, today it’s got a trendy title: adulting.
According to Merriam-Webster, the word adulting means “to do the things that adults regularly have to do.” I find the term annoying and blame Twitter for introducing it in 2008 and augmenting its ongoing popularity.
Twenty-somethings use the term to self-congratulate themselves for completing grown-up day-to-day tasks such as taking clothes to the dry cleaners, making dental appointments and paying bills—on time.
When I hear the noun used as a verb, I think it’s comical. I told a friend that my son, without my nagging, went to his property manager and followed up on a work order to repair his microwave. She said, “Good, he is adulting.”
I’m not against the notion of adulting, but against the pressures of rushing into adulthood. I hope my son savors his last semester and relishes the days of fewer responsibilities before spring brings an abrupt halt to his collegiate life.
Before my son trades his part-time job for a professional career, I support his plans to take several road trips to visit friends, spend lazy days at the beach and sleep in late on weekday mornings.
Soon, graduation season will start and, as he did four years ago, my son will say his goodbyes, pack his belongings, move to a new place and make new friends.
In a few short months, I’ll be sitting in an arena as “Pomp and Circumstance” thunders through its sound system. My son will cross the stage and turn his tassel to the left.
The ceremony won’t pronounce him an adult, but it will provide an occasion for him to celebrate his rally cry and an opportunity to make 2019 his year.
Shelley Murphy has lived in San Clemente with her husband for the past 21 years, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to the San Clemente Times since 2006.