I don’t understand why, in America, we’re all in a rush to grow up.

As soon as we say goodbye to our middle school years, we have to give up summer camp for a summer job. By 16, we’re expected to have our license and a car. And by age 18, we’re encouraged to move out of our parents’ house and to already have our lives figured out. 

That has never been the case for me. I didn’t get my license until I was in college and I still don’t have my own car. I got my first real job when I was 20, and I certainly haven’t moved out of my parents’ house. Because of this, I’ve always felt like I was behind everyone else in my generation.

But why do we have to feel that way? Why are we so eager to throw our childhoods away and step into adulthood? In some cultures, like in China or India, children aren’t encouraged to move out until they’re married. There’s no rush to be fully independent by the time you’re a senior in high school. So why is American society set on convincing us we need to be fully grown adults at 18?

I don’t want to grow up so fast. I don’t want to have a ton of financial responsibility. I don’t want to give up all of the things that I do for fun so I can devote my time to work. I don’t want my college years to fly by and turn into me dreading every day because of a nine-to-five job. 

We should be enjoying our childhood, our teenage years, and our 20s. We should be having fun and trying new things. We shouldn’t have to be thinking about how we’re going to pay rent next month, or how we can’t get that cute dress we saw at a store because we used the last bit of our paycheck for groceries.

America needs to stop pressuring kids to grow up so fast. There’s so much more to life than bills and responsibilities. Of course, we all eventually have to start acting like adults. But why are we doing that at 20? 18? Even 16?

I don’t feel embarrassed anymore when I tell people that I still live with my parents. I’m only 21, after all. There’s no rush. I want to enjoy my 20s while I can instead of worrying about finances. I believe everyone should take the time to enjoy their youth and have no regrets later on in life.

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