Agavni Mehrabi ’26 is planning to double major in government and finance. Outside of The Flat Hat, Agavni is a member of WCWM 90.9 and Archery Club. Email Agavni at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
For those who haven’t heard, Millie Bobby Brown announced that she got engaged two weeks ago. For those who have heard, I’m sure it still requires effort to digest the last sentence. I’m sure of that because, in terms of reactions, I’ve already heard several variations of the same sentiment: “Wasn’t she a child just a year ago?”
There’s a lot to break down in that sentence. Firstly, it assumes she isn’t still a child. She’s 19 years old. That’s technically teenage digits. That’s also the same age as much of the class of ’26. That’s … my age.
I cannot speak for all college freshmen everywhere, but I can confidently say that I, for one, am not an adult. This piece may be published for all the internet to see, but I will gladly air out my dirty laundry if it means I get to make my point better. So, on the topic of laundry, consider the following: I hadn’t washed a single piece of clothing before moving to college. Even after stepping onto campus, I still don’t know how to do my taxes. In fact, I have never so much as earned a taxable paycheck. Most importantly, my sleeping companion remains a stuffed platypus.
Even if none of this were true, I still would not be an adult. Why? Because I don’t feel like one. Call it a complex if you want. Tell me that the only reason I don’t feel like an adult is because I don’t want to be one — because I don’t want to get old. You could even extend that hypothesis to explain my disbelief regarding Brown’s engagement. To deny that she has grown up is, perhaps, to continue denying that I, myself, have grown up too. But honestly, what does it mean to “grow up?”
It is undeniable that being a teenager in the 21st century is different from being one in the 15th century. In fact, according to a BBC article, the term did not even exist before the Industrial Revolution. A boy as young as 15 was expected to take on the role as “man of the family,” and a girl of the same age was supposed to take care of said family. These folks could have rightfully been called grown up. Meanwhile, in the modern day, it’s become such a trend to return home after college that insurance companies allow people to stay under their parent’s health insurance coverage until they turn 26. Whether we’re grown up until then is up for debate.
In my eyes, the difference lies in experience. Back in the day, you would have collected twice the number of stories by the time you arrived at whatever age you’re at right now. If you don’t believe me, just read Tom Sawyer. Now, most of youth is spent in the confines of a desk chair. With the expansion of compulsory K-12 education, we’ve sacrificed street smarts for book smarts.
Technological progress has also delayed the process of maturation. Just one example: independence has become more of a lifestyle choice rather than a technical requirement of college life, especially since cell phones have made communication with the parental units just a hop, skip and tap away. It used to be a hassle – with pay phones a few decades ago and letter writing some years before that. You no longer have to fend for yourself or learn things as they’re hurled at you because you can simply shoot a text to ask how long to leave things in the microwave.
All that is to say, just because someone is 19 does not mean they are “grown up.” Now, being 19 does not mean you have to be green around the ears either, but it has become a lot more common to spend more time feeling your way about the world. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that it’s a bad thing. By trading in a lot of what would traditionally be considered “grown up” problems, modern youths have taken on a variety of academic and extracurricular pursuits that their ancestors would only have dreamed of.
This is the part when I finally say it: be grateful for your youth. Savor it. Rejoice in the fact that your family’s survival no longer hinges on whether you managed to successfully hunt that venison. Be grateful for the fact that you no longer have to be married off to your best friend’s cousin’s neighbor for discount cattle. Be glad that all that is asked of you at the moment is to use college to grow into who you want to be.
I concede — Brown might not be your average 19-year-old. Yes, she might have had to “grow up” somewhat faster due to her acting career. But consider all the wealth this has allowed her to accumulate. She has all the more luxury to take life one step at a time. I doubt her livelihood is resting on a dowry.
I understand the two have been together for three years, too. The way I see it, however, is that a couple more years would not be the end of the world if they truly intend to have a marriage that lasts. Do the math: a three-year relationship followed by a 50-year marriage lasts the same as a ten-year relationship followed by a 43-year marriage.
Furthermore, if she truly loves her man, and if he truly loves her, marriage can certainly wait. If the worry is that he will fall in love with some model from Milan in the meantime, I fail to see how it doesn’t pay to be patient. I don’t know about Millie Bobby Brown, but I would rather be cheated on before I tie the knot, when breaking up doesn’t take millions in the form of filing for a divorce.
But of course, Brown will probably not read this article. I am not so prideful as to believe that it will ever cross her eyes, me being me and her being her. She will probably have her wedding before the manifestation of that kind of miracle. To those of you who are reading this article, at least, let it be known that I highly encourage you all to think twice about cashing in your youth before your time is ripe. Smell those roses. Take your time with it.