by Byron Bloemer
What do you want to do when you grow up? What will you do when you get into the real world?
Of course, implicit in these kinds of questions is that college students are not grown up and are not living in the real world. Wrong, I hope! Here is a little proof that you are living in the real world:
*Every year, hundreds of young people die in accidents that were partly caused by alcohol abuse. Had any beers lately?
*About 40 percent of sexual behavior displayed on prime-time sitcoms would be considered sexual harassment in real life. Have you watched any TV this week?
*Heart attacks, which are highly related to how one deals with stress, kill tens of thousands of people every year. Young men frequently show signs of heart disease by the age of 21. Do you experience stress?
*Young male drivers are most likely to be involved in auto crashes, and they are least likely to wear their seatbelts. Been in a car yet today?
*As many as 700 deaths each day are attributed indirectly to a lack of regular physical exercise. When was the last time you went for a walk or a jog?
*AIDS now kills more young men than any other cause of death. Have you gotten some recently?
*Male smokers are more than twice as likely than nonsmokers to become impotent. Smokers' kids, who would never be born, probably wouldn't like that.
Now, I've given you solid evidence for rebuttal when your parents or noncollege-attending friends tell you that you are not living in the real world. No, you don't have to wait until you graduate to experience the real world. You are already in it. You are grown up!
Or are you? Does turning 18 or 19 indicate that you are grown up? Certainly, we all know some people who are well over 18 and still act completely childish. Does your first sexual experience give you the right to pass as grown up? Doubtful, because thousands of 12- and 13-year-old children engage in sexual activity regularly. How about getting drunk for the first time? No, same answer as for the last question.
So when are people actually grown up? Well, certainly everyone has to deal with problems I have described. I believe it is how you choose to deal with the issues life sends your way that defines you as "grown up." I believe most students attending colleges and universities are doing their best to gain the education for which they've come to school, to juggle a part-time job or two and to meet their interpersonal needs. Most students are very grown up.
However, there are a few out there who have yet to learn how to deal with some critical issues. I'll say it briefly: Take some responsibility. Take care of your bodies. Take care of your minds. Learn to be genuinely concerned for others. These, I believe, are the keys to providing a better place for everyone. You are America's next parents and future leaders. Let's get with the program!
Bloemer is a third-year counseling psychology doctoral student and adviser for the Cougar Peer Education Project.