The first transition that every person experiences is the transition from womb to world when we are first born and could also include having a baby shower earlier in the pregnancy. Honestly, I am not completely sure of too many rituals of transitions that are important in U.S. life overall. One of the few that comes to mind for me is having and participating in graduation. There are many different graduations that exist in the U.S. including kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, and even graduations from the completion of different programs. Another transition that comes to mind is the start of puberty for boys and girls. For boys, usually around 12 to 16 years old, things includes development of sexual organs, production of sperm cells, voice breaking, hair growth basically everywhere, emotional changes, and increased height, For girls, ranging from 9 to 14 years of age, puberty includes beginning of menstrual periods, release of eggs, development of breasts, hair growth, widening of hips, emotional changes, and increased height. While these are important parts of our lives, they are not really celebrated as so in the U.S. There are also many different transitions that exist and vary among different religions like baptism and bar mitzvahs for example. Since the U.S. is very diverse, the importance of these rituals varies a lot depending on the individual and their personal belief system. Getting married and starting a family can be seen as an important ritual in the U.S., but it seems to be less important in younger generations than it has been in the past. Another transition that could be seen as important in the U.S. is retirement and retirement parties. Since it is harder these days to live off Social Security, people are retiring later and later, and sometimes not at all. In some ways, death can be seen as the final transition of a person.
Of these U.S. rituals, I have experienced a good amount of them. My first transition into this world I do not remember at all but I’m glad it happened. I’ve had a couple of graduations like kindergarten and elementary school that I don’t remember too much of, but I do remember the feeling of pride. My middle school graduation was memorable especially because I was valedictorian and I got the chance to graduate with people that I grew up with for years. My graduation from high school was a good feeling, but looking back on it, it doesn’t feel as significant as I thought because there’s not much you can do with just a high school diploma these days, you need at least a bachelor’s degree. Puberty for me was not fun, especially when I started having periods. The first time I thought I was dying or something, which was not a good welcome into adolescence. As a Christian I have been baptized, but I’m not completely sure how it made me feel besides like I was making a big change in my life. The other transitions I have not yet experienced for myself.
This week we watched a video called “Rituals and Rites of Passage” which talked about different rituals as well as the idea of belonging- liminality- belonging. The idea of belonging- liminality- belonging looks at different transitional stages that we experience while growing up. We start off in a stage of belonging that consists of rules and structures we must follow. This stage is followed by liminality where everyone is “equal” and there aren’t as many rules, or they are very fluid. Following this stage we all return to a stage of belonging where rules and structure are put back in place. Looking at my life currently in college, I would say I am still in the liminality stage, but slowly nearing back to belonging. Before college, most of your life and the things you do are based around your parents and the rules they give you, but when you get to college you will quickly switch to the liminality stage where you are in charge of your social life and you can do what you want without following the rules that your parents set out for you. This sometimes includes even ignoring the law, but this is not always the case. I believe that when I graduate I will make the transition back to belonging when I begin my actual career and make my way around the world. As a college woman, there are several implicit and explicit messages about how a college woman should behave. Implicit messages focus on our future in society. Messages like this include talking about the positive contributions that I can make in the world and what career path I want to take. Explicit messages focus on things like our gender identity and our sexual identity. Messages like this that I can think of include not having a baby while in college or waiting until I’m married. Rituals and rites exist all throughout the world and while some are similar, there are many that are very different that what we have experienced in our lives.