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Debunking Adulthood

Debunking Adulthood

Let’s grab a calculator, or if you’re confident in your supreme math skills, your mind would suffice. Now follow these steps: take your age and multiply it by 5, add 50, multiply by 20, add 1015, subtract the year you were born. The first 2 digits of the result would be your age. 

Amazing right? This Internet trick is not aiming at testing your calculating skill whatsoever, it just purely gives us an excuse to do a double-take on our age, a number with so many connotations, as you can see it as merely a number counting the years living on Earth or just a measurement for your maturity. Let me ask you the following question: 


“Are you an adult yet?”


Technically, yes, if you’re legal of age and can take responsibility concerning your own action. Figuratively, maybe. How does one measure it anyway?           

In general, they would say to take a milestone and count it as the beginning of your adulthood. It’s your birthday, you’re a bit tipsy, queuing for a club at 2 am and giggling at literally everything with your friends. While showing the security guard your ID card for the first time in your life, you are now an adult. Your bank card is suddenly declined in the middle of the shop, you use up your last few bills which were kept for emergency and step out of the door, fishing out your phone and making the first formal phone call in your life, you are now an adult. You are standing in the kitchen, cooking dinner and humming a tune that has been on your mind for days, pouring oil into the pan and reminding yourself to buy some more. you freeze and it dawns on you that you are now in a different country, doing the exact same thing your mother does at home 10,000 kilometers away, you are now an adult. You finish the math question above and take a look at your age again, oh it’s legal enough, you are now an adult.

Having that realization dawn on you is probably, for some, not planned. It can come with a jittery feeling, having your childhood dream of becoming a fully capable human-being fulfilled; a surprise maybe, being so nostalgic about the things in the past; or perhaps being scared, because adulthood comes with many insecurities and challenges. 

Maybe you will welcome adulthood with open arms since it is such an inevitable part of life. Or you might stay in denial just a little bit longer because acknowledging it seems like an invitation card. You dread reaching your 20s as only “teenagers” can make stupid mistakes, suddenly the label you once detested – having 1 as the first digit of your age – turns into something worth valuing and savouring. While it is true that being a grown-up comes with much responsibility, laying bare and basically inviting people to hang up expectations and standardization of maturity on you – while you yourself are not ready yet – is a scary experience indeed.

So for the adults and non-adults out there, probably the one thing left to say is that everyone might get their exact age results with the above math question, but adulthood and maturity are both subjective and socially swayed. You, my friend, excited, sad, frightened as you are, are not alone on this road, regardless of where your final destination is.

Author: Bao Thu Nguyen

Editor: Gwendolyne Cheung

Visuals: Bao Thu Nguyen

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