Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Adulthood (07/30/09)
TITLE: The Measure of Maturity
By Lizzy Ainsworth
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Standing near the green rubbish bin on the pavement, a young man wearing a cancer council t-shirt caught her eye; it was the same as the one her Mum wore.
“Excuse me,” he greeted enthusiastically, “Would you mind giving me a moment of your time?”
She nodded briefly and pushed her wide-brimmed straw hat back so that she could see him more clearly.
“We are asking for members of the public to help support the cancer council in the research they do. All of our supporters must be over 21 however I am sure that will be no problem.”
“I’m sorry, but I am not 21 yet, in fact I am only seventeen,” she broke in before he could continue his speech.
“You must be 21!” he stammered, his British accent forcing itself strongly into his speech, making her wonder what he was doing on an Australian pavement. “How can you not be 21?”
“Well, I’m not,” she supplied with a grin while he stared at her in disbelief. After a moment he seemed to regain his speech and ask enough to find out where she worked.
With a bemused little nod in his direction, and a goodbye, she continued on her way, leaving him silently staring after her until he realised others were waiting to see him.
It had always been this way. When she was 12, everyone thought she was 16 and when she had finally turned that coveted age, everyone thought that she was at least 22. Sometimes it was hilarious to watch people’s reactions but occasionally it was downright annoying.
Sometimes eighteen seemed like such a wonderful age. The age of freedom or so it seemed. When you could attend a conference without needing special permission and references because you were underage but looked overage.
Was age really the defining factor in adulthood? It had often made her wonder. If a stranger guessed your age much older than it really was, what did they see that related to maturity or adulthood? Was it her looks or stature?
The culture seemed to have it all wrong, measuring adulthood as the time when you could legally drink, smoke and be married. Adulthood should be a stage that you grew into gradually, measured by maturity and responsibility, not age limits and rules.
She had often thought about it and wondered if adulthood was more similar to the Biblical age of 13. Where you were trained into moral and lawful principles and were released into the realm of adulthood when your parents deemed you an appropriate maturity for work and marriage.
If that was the case how many young people would be promoted to adulthood and how many adults would be demoted back down to childhood?
She smiled at a small girl on the street, the young Mum nearby staring at her with suspicious eyes as she withdrew cash from the bank. It seemed today society was breeding a lawless and immoral selection of adults who perhaps never really grew into maturity.
In six months she would turn 18 and be accepted as a member to vote, to drink, to smoke and to marry, though really it was only the first and the last she wished to do. Already people thought her old enough simply by figure and stature to be an adult, it just seemed her birth certificate told otherwise. It would be nice when they finally matched and she could be accepted by both age and maturity into the realms of adulthood.
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