On Becoming an Adult
On Becoming an Adult
  • Reporter Park Hee-won
  • 승인 2019.12.05 12:34
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I always wanted to be an adult. A legal adult is a person who has attained the age of majority, which is 19 in Korea. Receiving perfume and roses for Coming-of-Age Day, I remember thinking “Wow! I am finally an adult now.” However, I could not get rid of the idea that I was a mere child living in a grown body. I knew that many labels which modify myself cannot fully explain who I am.
Generally speaking, a child “grows up” to be an “adult”. The growth is often expressed as a process in which the body and mind mature over time. If so, one can say that an adult is a person who lives with a mature body and mind and regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible. But I think self-realization and reflection are necessary to define the word “growth”. The growth of the body is directional. Once you grow taller, you never get shorter. However, that is not the case for growth of ego. The ego changes constantly according to external stimuli.
In my definition, the word “growth” includes the reflection due to the external stimuli and the fulfillment of what one really wants. Rather than assuming the presence of Plato’s Idea, there is a variable and relatively ideal state as the reality changes. And it is human reason to decide which direction one should head for. 
There are egos which are seen from society and oneself – which I will refer to as social ego and real ego. Those two concepts cannot be divided or defined separately while coexisting and interacting each other. According to Cooley’s looking-glass self theory, a person’s self grows out of society’s interpersonal interactions and the perceptions of others. People shape themselves based on what other people perceive and confirm other people’s opinion on themselves. Social ego affects real ego deeply. Social ego is a part of one’s identity and an important factor that determines the attitude toward life. 
The boundary that distinguishes social and real ego is somewhat vague. Real ego has to include the perceptions of others according to Cooley’s theory. To expand the discussion, we can think about the relationship between the world and I. The existence of “I” cannot exist solely. We can misunderstand that the world which we exist in changes because we have the absolute power of decision. But the world’s influence is great to make such a decision. In order to make value judgments, we cannot ignore the effects of background knowledge and the environment we are engaged in. 
Now, I want to talk about being an “adult”. The definition of the dictionary is so comprehensive for this ambivalent word. A minor is eager to be an adult while some adults fail to grow up. The minor fantasize about the independence and ‘being adult’ itself, and wants to wield the rights and obligations of the majors. But paradoxically, the majors with simply grown body do not value the “growth” and avoid the responsibility of the adults. As a major who desires to be an adult, I defined the “adult” in my own way. First, in order to grow up, one has to keep the real ego straight and let the social ego converge to its counterpart. Those two should keep balance for one to make proper judgements. Second, one has to figure out one’s preference to pursue what one really longs for. One should also decide for the best in the presence of reflection to grow up. 
I have no idea when I will become the “adult” which I defined above. My biggest goal in POSTECH is finding out what I really want to do. Pondering over and over, I try to experience as much as possible. Also, I strive to practice my values in daily life interacting with the world. Maybe all the moments I live in might be the steps to being an adult.