That picture to the left is really, really cringey, but it rings true to the general way that I look at my life. My career has moved in such a way that at every turn I have been able to try and keep having fun. Juvenile fun a lot of times, but fun nonetheless. Will I ever ‘come of age’? I ask this because I gave some of my students a video project where they had to address their own ‘coming of age’. I took a longer look at this concept below.
Coming of age stories have a universal appeal because they reflect the challenges and triumphs we all face in our journey to adulthood. There are zillions of books and movies that deal with, in greater or lesser fashion, the prospect of becoming an adult. The question I think is very important is when this process should begin and end. Is it to occur as you are approaching 18 years old? When you are 21 years old? Is this an objective or subjective question? Legally when I turned 18 I was considered an adult, but as I live and breathe I had no idea whatsoever what it meant to be a responsible member of society. That phrase – responsible member of society – have I achieved that level even now, at 50? We’ll circle back to that.
The transition from child to adult seems to be full of different loss of innocence scenarios. This does not mean they are all traumatic circumstances – life situations occur where we came to understand that life as we knew it has changed and we adjust. If you don’t roll with the punch, the punch might roll you. Okay, more cringe again, but hopefully you know what I mean.
I have been alive for half a century, so attempting to come up with one singular event that I can label as a Coming of Age moment is challenging. I am sure that there were some in the high school/college era, and most of them involve a really stupid decision which caused a big mess that I somehow managed to get out of. I would then promptly forget any lesson I learned and went back to my default setting of idiot.
Coming of Age moments that I have had that I will not forget:
Son #1 and Son #2
Is it bad that I do not think I have any other moment? Truly nothing comes to mind. Possible scenario that my memory is that bad. More likely it is that I have not taken anything that seriously where it could have impacted me long term. I suppose it is debatable whether or not this is a good or bad thing. Time will tell…
I gave my Advanced Video and Film students a project about the whole Coming of Age concept. I know I never had thoughts about this when I was their age, but maybe if you can at least have the introspective discussion required with themselves that is needed to complete the project, it might show them things about themselves they never knew were there. But beware – self awareness is a scary journey.