1. When do you feel like a grown-up?” “What affirms this?”
As the eldest daughter in the family, I have always been the one to “look out” for my younger brothers. When I was little, I remember my parents always traveling. If it weren’t my mom for a week, my dad would be gone for three, but they always took turns. Therefore, ever since I was little I’ve had the responsibility to play the part of a part-time parent, feeling the need to fulfill their small gaps.
When I became 10 I remember that on my birthday I got my very first pocket knife. At this age, I’ve never owned anything that was truly mine. I had no phone or iPod, like all my friends, but I didn’t mind. Having something just for myself was fascinating at the time. I remember being very careful with where I would put it and I would always carry it with me. Having personal belongings helped introduce myself to the consequences of being independent. If I lost it, it was gone, and that was that, but luckily I took such good care of it, that it never left my sight.
As the years gradually went by I would feel the need to be the one in charge of things for I felt the need to become my sibling’s role models. It never really felt like an option, nor did it feel obligated; if anything, it just kinda happened. It all started when I was told that I could be the one “in charge” of my brothers when we were home alone. I started making decisions and taking care of my brothers ever since.
Nowadays it all seems normal. I’m the older one and therefore do the most chores, make dinner, help them with their homework and take care of them. At times this can be overwhelming of course, but I’ve learned that they need me. I have no clue what it would be like having an older brother or sister, but I do know that the least I can do is have their backs.
2. Do we still need rites of passage? Do we need the physical and mental ordeals? Do we need the formality?
Growing up can be challenging, yet once you reach certain points you can’t help but feel accomplished. I believe that it is therefore very important to keep certain rites of passages in practice, allowing us young adults, who are transitioning through a tough part of life, to look back and feel proud of ourselves. Whether these are huge or even minor, I believe that this helps an individual’s mental growth for they can always go back to see what they’ve accomplished so far and drive themselves forward.
Whether there should be physical as well as mental ordeals really depend on the culture and the practices, but coming from me, I don’t think it should be mandatory to put ourselves to the test on a risky level. The formality shouldn’t always be a factor of such significance, either. This will always vary from one family to another and therefore shouldn’t be necessary. If they want to make it all serious and formal, perfect, and if not, sounds great too. Like I mentioned before, different families have distinct ways of celebrating and tackling these rites of passages and that’s the way it should be.
3. Do the old rites of passages still apply, or do we need entirely new ones that make sense in today’s world? If so, what would they look like?
I believe that old rites of passages should be kept. These rites of passages are original and were and still are the ones that were practiced centuries ago. Taking part in such an antique rite makes it special. In today’s world, everything has advanced at its own pace, including ourselves. Even though others might think it’s about time to “renew” these rites of passages, I still agree that we should hold on to our past. These have more of a meaning and can allow our pure culture and memories arouse.
4. Have you gone through a rite of passage?
Unlike many people who have gone through very formal and largely celebrated rites of passages, I never took part in anything that grand. Throughout my lifetime, I have always had small things here and there that counted as mini rites of passages. I remember first being allowed to go walking to my friend’s house all alone, fixing my own bike, hanging out with friends without a time limit and many other small things that came through the years.
In the future, though, I will be allowed to travel to my birth country (Dominican Republic), which I haven’t visited for the past 13 years, once I’m 15. This is our own version of the world-known Quinceañera. Instead of having a huge party and dressing up and dancing alongside my dad, I will travel alone with my grandmother.