Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 12, 2024


By JAMIE KIM | September 26, 2023



Kim reflects on how her understanding of what it means to be an adult has changed over time. 

It’s my last fall semester at Hopkins, which is a bit surreal. It’s exciting, yet daunting because once this school year is over, I have to be a real adult. 

In an attempt to cross over into the real adult world, like many others in their last year at school, I am applying to graduate programs and jobs. This process is immensely reflective, especially when you have to write several personal statements and cover letters, hoping that the descriptions of your strengths are enough to get you chosen to take part in adult world activities. As I weed my way through this arduous, repetitive and rejecting process into adulthood, I realize that this isn’t the adulthood I anticipated as a child. It may be the reality I learned to accept as I got older, but it’s not the vision I had as a child. 

Most of us, as children, experienced the feeling of desperately wishing to become an adult sooner. To our younger selves, adults looked like they had more freedom to do whatever they pleased and had the authority to command those around them. Adults seemed “cool” and “powerful,” especially to five-year-olds who have to ask permission to watch television or eat chocolate. In short, I used to view becoming an adult as the ultimate fantasy. 

But, strangely enough, as we approach adulthood, many of us want to regress back to childhood, feeling like being a child offers less responsibility and more freedom. We get hit in the face by a truckload of reality; responsibilities build up and we navigate a social world where we have to ask our boss for permission to take a break. Eventually, adults are left with no choice but to reminisce about their carefree childhood as the nostalgia sweeps in. 

The internal dialogue I had with myself over this matter reminded me of a heated conversation I had with my mom about whether all humans are living the same lives, save for small tweaks in our professional and family lives. I had vehemently argued that those seemingly small tweaks make our lives different; my mom argued that our careers and families are merely jobs and people around us as we eat, sleep, wake up and work. At the end of the discussion, my mom and I agreed that it was a matter of perspective. 

The difference in how we view adulthood as a child and childhood as an adult is also a matter of perspective — children don’t see the responsibility that comes with adulthood and adults don’t remember the restrictions that come with childhood; each is attractive when viewed in a certain light. 

As I navigate my way through the last year at Hopkins and into the adult world, I am humbled again at how it all still seems to be a matter of perspective. I continue to hope for the same things that I had hoped and wished for when I was younger. However, I view them differently, perhaps more cynically, now that I have lost the innocence of childhood and gained a more mature perspective. This type of transition into adulthood wasn’t what I had envisioned as a young child, but it’s still the adulthood that was bound to come and the one that I was waiting for.

Jamie Kim is a senior from N.J. studying Psychology. Her column explores her journey navigating through life and Hopkins as an introvert.

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