The rituals of transitions that I think are most important in the United States are different depending on if you are male or female. There are some rituals of transitions that I feel are more specific to females, such as the first time you menstrate. There are also more general ones such as going through puberty, graduating from highschool, going to college, getting a driver’s license, turning 18 and 21, having your first boyfriend/girlfriend, and having kids. These are universally accepted occurences in our lives that our soceity has mutally accepted as points of transition into the next stage in our lives. When we go through each new ritual of transition, we feel like we are furthering our path into adulthood.
I have pretty much gone through all of the rituals of transition that I have listed, with the exception of having kids. Whenever I went through these rituals, I felt a sense of accomplishment , as well as nervousness. I felt like I was finally “grown up” when I got my driver’s license, and when I turned 21 and was finally able to go to bars and drink. These were both things that I was told through the media and my peers make me incredibly happy and would amount to tons of freedom. When they both happened I felt like I had taken a huge leap into adulthood and could finally say that I was living my adult life right and that I wasn’t a “kid” anymore to my peers. I also felt incredibly nervous entering college for the first time. I had no clue how to navigate MSU’s huge campus and it was my first time being away from home without my parents to help me with everything I needed. Although I was nervous I kept going to my classes, started talking to the people who lived in my dorm, and slowly adjusted to college life.
Looking back at it, I feel that those moments in time helped me to become the person that I am today. If I hadn’t gone to college, I wouldn’t have been introduced to how life is living on my own. I wouldn’t know what it would feel like to not live in my parent’s house, abide by their rules, and always look for their help. I developed a sense of individuality, and I gained insight on other personalities by meeting all the people I did over the past 4 years. College helped me grow tough skin by realizing that everything isn’t going to get handed to you, and you have to work hard to get what you want. When you do–however–the reward is sweet.
I am currently navigating a ritual of transition, which is entering the workforce. Although I am happy that I have a job in my field and that I am able to make money to support myself, I am still incredibly nervous exclusively working and not being a part of college life for a year. My whole life I have been in school (from 4 to 22 years of age) so it’s kind of a shock to actually be “adulting” and paying rent, bills, and other expenses. It is still taking me some time to adjust to this stage of my life, and although I am nervous about “making it” in this life I am sure that I will do fine.
Throughout the first 2 years of my college life I experienced a sense of belonging-liminality-beloging. My freshman year at MSU I frequently went home to see my family and my family would also come to visit me. I was living in the dorms on campus and did not have to pay for rent, food, and other expenses. I didn’t have to drive anywhere because I would take the CATA bus (or I would walk to all the places I wanted to go to) and I did not get a job until my second semester of school (which was part time). Now, I am definitely at the end of the second belonging. I am fully responsible for myself and am working a full time job to support my needs and expenses. Unfortunately, some of the messages that I have received about how a college woman should behave revolve around rape culture on campus. For example, I as well as my girlfriends had to act more cautiously when we would walk on campus late at night for fear of being sexual assaulted. It was commonplace to bring a pocket knife, mace, or any other small weapon in your purse or backpack in case someone tried to hurt you. Another message that I have received is that college women who go to parties and have fun are promiscuous or “slutty”.