A rite of passage is a celebration or ritual that recognizes a metamorphosis of an individual or group of people. However, most people view a rite of passage as an individual’s progression through a former state. This is incorrect. A rite of passage is the external acknowledgement of the world or individual’s selected audience that a transformation has taken place. The internal acknowledgement of the individual going through the rite of passage would be termed an epiphany or realization.
With this being said, what if individuals weren’t ready internally to be transformed into what society expects? What if a girl turning sixteen is too immature to accept womanhood? What if a person graduating college isn’t ready to start a career? Why do we force rites of passage on people that aren’t ready for it? This cultural/religious coming of age rite has its good and bad circumstances. One good thing it produces is that is forces people to become what is accepted. A bad circumstance is that it traps people into what they don’t want to do, for instance, getting stuck with a job instead of a career. I feel these rituals and celebrations that mark chronological points in our lives are detrimental to becoming who we want to be; instead they force us to become who we need to be.
Success is measured in many ways. Winning elections, hall of fame, Heisman trophy, Doctorate, marriage, children, house, car, job, career are some ways we view success. Almost all measures of success have a rite of passage that allows society to know your life’s status. The overall variable that comes with success in relationship to its rite of passage is time.
Based on a revolution of the earth around a star, time is defined through physics as (time = distance/rate). Time is also broken down into seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. A year is 365 days, excluding leap years, which it takes the earth to travel around the sun. It bothers me that my life, my accomplishments are measured by a gravitational pull around a star. It bothers me, that I am viewed as not successful or not as successful as others because I didn’t settle with the race around the sun. I just don’t feel burdened by space, its stars and it gravitational orbits. This being said, although early success is respected, it shouldn’t be coveted as a rite of passage to success.
When I look at my friends who are in the same position as I, I think of many people in our history that have achieved greatness passed the recognitions of their rites of passage or before them. To name a few such people in history, Alexander the great was 20 when he inherited the world, Mohandas Gandhi was more inspiring in his later age then in his earlier, a President of the United States must be 35 before he can run for office and last but not least Jesus’ greatest works were done when he was 30 and he is the son of God.
We don’t need a ritual to become who we should be. In fact, we should not take these rites of passages seriously since they have been created so that people, other than yourself, can realize a temporal accomplishment of survival rather than success. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just survive, I want to live life to its fullest. There is no timeframe for soul searching; there is no planetary revolutions that can make epiphanies happen faster. There is no shame in never settling and doing it “rite” the first time.