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Rated: E · Essay · Women's · #2197300
The most special rites of passage aren't extravagant.
When one thinks of a rite of passage, one commonly thinks about a big ceremony celebrating a milestone in life, such as a wedding or coming of age ceremony. Well-known rites of passage in America include bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, sweet sixteens, quinceaneras, baby showers, bachelor parties, and birthdays celebrating various age milestones. First-world western culture makes a big deal out of these rites of passage. Some businesses cater to the needs of these celebrations: dressmakers, event planners, cake designers, florists, you name it. Greeting card companies such as Hallmark dish out millions of wedding and birthday cards on the regular, and bridal and bachelorette party gifts can even be found in mall stores such as Icing by Claire's and Spencer's. Even the entertainment industry is cashing in on America's fascination with rites of passage with reality shows revolving around the topic such as My Super Sweet Sixteen and Bridezilla. There are also plenty of movies on this subject produced, Bridesmaids being a famous example. Magazines and news stations also cash in on this topic of high interest by broadcasting and reporting on every tiny detail of the British royal family's and the Kardashians' weddings. Marketing and the media are selling expectations to their citizens, especially the females who indulge in most of these rites of passage.

As a woman myself, I've pictured my rites of passage being as glamorous as the celebrities in the magazines. Sadly, I am not a celebrity. Thus, once I got too old for the pony rides and twenty-seven gifts, each birthday closer felt like one fit for an unspecial peasant. Then again, I believed myself to be an unspecial peasant back then, so I was grateful.

Then came my sixteenth birthday. I would no doubt consider this my worst birthday ever. Going back to what I said earlier about expectations, mine were significantly high. I didn't expect my parents to rent out the entire Ritz Carlton so I could invite everyone from my school to my Vegas-themed party. Also, a venue like the Ritz Carlton would be too large for the turnout of the very few people who cared. Okay, maybe more people cared than I thought. Many of my classmates had a great time celebrating with me on my birthday at school, but I expected people to be talking about it before the actual date came up.

It wasn't until around my twentieth birthday that I realized my colleagues aren't obligated to get hyped about my birthday. That's why my twentieth birthday was the absolute best I've ever had; I had no expectations. Because I had to work on my birthday, I decided to wisen up and not expect much. However, not only did a lot of my dad's patients wish me a happy birthday, but I also got Peanut Butter as a birthday present. I didn't even expect my dad to agree to adopt her from the barn; he and Mom usually refuse to buy more pets.

From this experience, I learned that the most valuable rites of passage have nothing to do with making a girl feel like a princess. Instead, they remind her to release all expectations and seize the day, no matter what happens. As we become independent adults, we're expected to rely on ourselves for validation. Lots of women post pics on social media about how their twenty-first birthday was an absolute ball. Most twenty-first birthdays are rites of passage celebrating becoming old enough to drink and involve multiple gal pals. Not every woman wants to drink in her life or has a handful of girlfriends to spend a night on the town with, so the traditional twenty-first birthday is not for every woman. Therefore, it's up to the woman herself to think about what would make her happiest on her twenty-first birthday. There will be a chance that you'll have to work or study that day, so don't expect an entire day of freedom to spoil yourself. Life puts itself on hold for no one, not even Meghan Markle. When it comes to these rites of passage, do what makes you feel comfortable and don't feel pressured to fit the picture-perfect model presented by the media.
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