"Becoming an adult" is a phrase that I don't think people think about much. What does it mean? Turning 18? When I was teaching and one of my students turned 18, I would ask him what the first thing he was going to do would be. The inevitable reply: "I am going to buy a lottery ticket and some cigarettes!" Very occasionally, a student would respond, "I will also register to vote."
I have never really thought about what it means to "become an adult." Our society makes it seem like it's a rite of passage where we can finally do all the things that we were not allowed to do as children. But is giving in to that self-indulgence really "becoming an adult?" Or is becoming an adult more significant than that? Is it taking on more responsibility like living on one's own, paying bills, getting a job, or becoming a parent, or is it even more than that?
Perhaps it is realizing that the self-indulgence of childhood is over, and it is time to use whatever skills and resources we may possess for the greater good? The veil of "innocent childhood" is removed from our eyes, we see the world as it really is, and we declare, "I will do good here."
I found this story in The Huffington Post initially, and Susanne's story made me think even more about what it means to face loss and terrible tragedy. Instead of allowing her grief to consume her (and who could blame her?), she became more aware of the plights of others. Her own loss was a catalyst for her to do immeasurable good.
I hope, one day, to be an adult like Susanne Janson.
Watch her CNN Heroes video here:
And read about her here:
Learn more and/or donate to her orphanage: