Tick. You’re surrounded by friends and family. Tock. They stare at you eagerly, waiting for the candles to be blown. Tick. You smile and turn to face your birthday cake. Tock. In what seems like slow-motion, everyone around you starts cheering. You had blown the candles out. You are now officially 18-years-old. But what lies ahead of you is more responsibilities and problems to deal with.
Reaching the age of majority is a dream that many of us have as a child. The idea of being independent sounds like pure heaven, especially with no one ordering you around. But in reality, this so-called heaven doesn’t seem very much like freedom once the milestone is actually reached.
Senior Sofia Urbina brings to light one perspective of the struggles of becoming an adult, comparing them to when she was younger.
“I miss not having as many responsibilities. Currently, it’s been stressful thinking that my actions can heavily impact my future,” she said, “It was easy to be carefree as a child, but now I feel the weight of making decisions about my future.”
Another senior, Jeongwoo Jang shares a new side of the story relating to his Korean background.
“Asians are expected to be better at studying, even within the community.” he said, “I had most of my education outside of Korea, so I wasn’t able to kind of meet up to those expectations, especially when I went back to Korea to study for middle school and a bit of high school.”
However, not only does Jang feel the pressures of being the stereotypical smart Asian, his Korean status holds him at another expectation: conscription to the Korean military. Conscription, often called the draft, has existed in South Korea since 1957. It requires male citizens between the ages of eighteen to twenty-eight to serve if their physical conditions allow. According to the article South Korea Reconsiders a Rite of Manhood: The Draft, it is “one of the few industrialized countries that still drafts its young people.”
Living in a country where conscription is not normalized, Jang talks about the disadvantages many Korean males could experience.
“Most people would have to go during their college years which would… delay your educational term by a year,” he said, “Between that year and a half in the military you wouldn’t be able to study at all, so you would have to redo a lot of your work once you come back.”
While some agree that becoming an adult comes with more responsibilities, there are some who think there is no drastic change. Senior Hugh Defrancesco believes that aside from having more “legal responsibility and individual freedom, the rest of it feels the same.”
“It’s kind of overplayed because a lot of people tend to think that when you turn eighteen, you just suddenly become independent,” he stated, “…you’re not truly independent until after high school… when you’re not dependent on family.”
Many seniors who have reached the age of majority have experienced an increase of pressure and expectations coming from different places including family, peers, and even society. It completely contradicts what we believed adulthood would be like as children. After gaining a new perspective of the reality of entering the age of majority, is it really worth escaping the age of minority?