Growing up too fast makes us look younger

Are there any 16-year-olds in the audience?” a 22-year-old singer calls out to a room full of people. He and the rest of the band then smirk and giggle.

“Now, I know lots of great 16-year-olds, who are very mature,” he says and then waits for the punch line. “I just didn’t go to high school with any of them.”

When I first heard this on a live recording of one of Old Springs Pike’s songs, I was offended. I am 16 and I consider myself fairly mature. The only catch is when I actually thought about the majority of the 16 (and 17 and 18) year olds at this school, the singer seemed to be right: high school kids are not very mature.

The problem stems from the definition of maturity: there’s a double standard.

First of all, there is the maturity that, frankly, will help us get into college. This is the maturity that leads us to get internships, found community service organizations and get fives on our APs.

But then there is the other kind of maturity (or lack thereof) that leads teenagers to get drunk, be promiscuous, smoke, etc.

Technically, teenagers are not allowed to do these things. So, in an effort to be more “adult,” teenagers take these to extremes.

After the 2006 semiformal afterparty debacle, one might think that students might be more careful in the way they consume alcohol. Obviously no one is going to refrain, but you wouldn’t expect more poisonings, right? Well, wrong. Another ambulance pulls up.

When adults drink, they typically don’t get ill. One does not look very mature to the doctors who are pumping his or her stomach in the emergency room.

It’s the same thing with promiscuity. A teenager will be seen as being more mature if he or she does things in private. Hooking up with three or four people in a night only makes someone more mature in a physical way. They’ve had more experience. But does that really happen that often past college age?

Many of us who are Admissions Ambassadors have been there on a family visiting day when a questioning parent of a sixth grader asks worriedly: “Is there a drug scene on campus?”
You freeze up: “Um, well.” And then there’s the cover-up: “Did I mention the College Board named four of our APs the top in the nation?”

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