Rituals of transition are very important in the United States. The ones I feel are most important are marriage, baby showers, birthdays, more specifically our 18th and 21st birthdays, graduation from high school, and graduation from college.
Part II: What rituals of transition have you gone through yourself? How did you feel about going through the ritual at the time? How do you feel about it now, looking back at that moment?
Transitions I have gone through myself include my 18th and 21st birthday, as well as, my high school graduation.
Looking back at my 18th birthday, I felt weird about the event. I was supposed to be an adult, but I felt the same as I did any other day. Looking back at it, I don’t really feel that it was all that monumental of an event. Becoming an adult takes time and growth, hardy something I could be expected to have at 18.
For my high school graduation, I felt great from the experience. I felt really nervous and couldn’t wait to be done with school. Reflecting on it now, it was a great experience, but its not one that I would wan to repeat. I as just transitioning to college, which was an even better experience.
For my 21st birthday, I felt great. Turning 2 was an experience that was extremely different. I went out to the bars with my friends and while it was fun, I was just glad to be able to do something with them that I usually had to miss out on. Even reflecting now, drinking and going to the bars is highly overrated. There’s nothing special about it, and at some point, I realized that its really not the type of scene I want to be associated with.
College is, and will forever be, a once in a lifetime experience I feel like. Everybody talks about it, looks forward to it, but never really appreciates how much it shapes and changes you. Yes we grow as people every year, but this was completely different from transitioning in middle school or high school. In college, you walk in and your responsibilities and level of freedom are different. In high school, you live at home, sometimes you have a curfew or expected time to be home, your meals are prepared for you, you go to school and you’re in class all day (essentially your schedule is the same everyday and otherwise planned out for a basic 7 hour period), and you don’t pay bills. I wasn’t an adult while living at home, I was still considered to be a kid. High school was the belonging phase that we go through.
Transitioning to college was the liminality phase. When you get to college, there’s this odd source of chaos because of the “lack of rules” but everyone is moderately equal. Freshman year you go through this the most. I was living in a dorm but at the same time, I did not have my parents looking over my shoulder making sure I got home at an appropriate time. Yeah there were classes, but I had to be self motivated to go and make sure I got there on time. Classes also changed depending on the day and so I had to be more self aware and make sure I got there. Food is prepared for us, but we decide when we eat, and we choose what we eat instead of our parents guiding our food choices for us. While we had fees for living, we could choose to pay them out of pocket, through loans, or through scholarships. College had some type of structure, but getting things done and figured out essentially fell back on us.
There are quite a few explicit and implicit messaged that we receive while in college. The main ones revolve around how we act and what we do. We get quite a few of these messages from parties and the people we meet. We are explicitly told to not drink and to get help if we run into anyone that has, and we receive this mainly from the school and administration through the videos we have to watch. But we know that people go to parties and get extremely drunk and avoid calling an ambulance because its costly, regardless of the fact that we know we shouldn’t do either. We also implicitly are told how we need to dress. Girls should wear makeup, do their hair, and wear short dresses. While we are never told to, we take our cues from the people around us and just know to do it.