I was born in and grew up in the U.S. and I think there are several rituals of transition that are important. I think the first type of transitions have to do with age. I think turning 13, 16, 18, and 21 are important when growing up because these seem to be the ages that certain large changes in your life happen. I think turning 13 is an important transition because you become an official teenager, and with that comes a lot of changes in how you see yourself and your family and friends as well as changes in your body and puberty. During the age of 15/16 is also important because you are also eligible to get your license, and I think driving is a huge ritual of transition for many kids because it gives them a sense of freedom that they did not have before. I think 18 is also an important transition age because for most people it correlates to graduating high school and for some people either going into the job force or going on to college. It also marks the age where you are technically considered an “adult” by the government/other systems and can legally vote, open your own bank account or even buy cigarettes. 21 is also an important age because you can legally drink and it also seems to be the last of the ages of transition where you are restricted by anything legally. There are also other rituals of transition that I think are important that do not really correspond to age. I think these are more to do with stages of your life after you become an “adult”. These rituals are things like having a steady full time job, getting married, owning your first home and having kids.
The rituals of transition I have gone through myself include all of the ages I listed as well as owning my first car. In terms of the ages, I definitely felt different things going through each of those stages of my life. Some of the things I felt were definitely based on what my friends/other people were saying I should feel, especially turning 13 and becoming a teenager. Looking back on that time now, although there was a lot of change during that time I think I felt it was more important because other people were telling me it was important. However, for the other ages and rituals of transition, like getting a driver’s license at 16 and graduating high school and going to college at 18, were especially important to me because they indicated a new level of freedom that I had not really been able to experience before. During those times I definitely began to feel more confident in myself and more important in a sense because I felt like I had more responsibility and I could handle more things in my life. Looking back on it now, I think that these were actually important transitions in my life and I think the way that I thought about them when I was that age was appropriate. I recently turned 21, the last of the “age” transitions and although it is kind of a big transition to be able to drink legally, I do think that it is a little bit less important than people make it out to be. I do think that living in a college town where drinking is a big deal and there are a lot of bars to go to, people do make a big deal out of it. It definitely is nice to be 21 and be able to drink legally but because it did not come with a large scale “life-change” like the other ages had, I do not think it felt as important or as big of a deal.
I definitely think that most college students experience the belonging-liminality-belonging especially as they enter. In terms of coming into college, as a high school student there were definitely rules and social hierarchies and structure that meant that there was not a lot of leeway or freedom in terms of high school. You see the same people everyday who are in consistent social hierarchies in terms of who their friends were or who they talked to. However, in going to college, there is a sense of liminality and transformation because you do not really know many people and you also do not know people’s ages. However, as you progress within college, you start to get older and get more adapted to college and you began to learn and get better at recognizing people who are younger than you and you also start to develop new friend groups. One of the biggest explicit messages I think college women receive is about drinking/partying and staying safe. People often give college women explicit messages such as “do not leave your drink unattended at a party”, “make sure you do not wear anything too revealing”, or “be careful about walking alone and who you talk to”. Although these are messages to make sure that women stay safe around the college campus, the implicit message within that type of advice is that is it the woman’s job to stay safe and if something happens to her because of someone else, that it is her fault that she was not more careful, which is a very negative implicit message.