So I turned eighteen last week.
Yeah, I’m kinda an adult. Which is kinda weird, because I’m actually allowed to make pretty important decisions for myself that I’m not sure I should be making. You can actually pretty much do anything in the US when you’re eighteen except drink.
Here are a few of the ways I’ve taken advantage of my oldness:
- I voted. I got lucky and election day was the day after my birthday, so I decided to be a good citizen and partake in our political system.
- I got three (!) new piercings: a helix (upper cartilage), and my doubles (a new lobe piercing in each ear). My family was not too pleased even though they were given ample foresight beforehand.
- I signed a contract to pick up some medical records. That didn’t make me feel mature, it just made me feel ancient.
- I signed a pro-gay rights petition.
- I drove home at midnight from a friend’s house and stopped at a 24-hour Taco Bell without breaking curfew (though I’ll admit I still felt rebellious eating grade D meat in the middle of the night).
- I bought tickets to an 18 and over concert. Nothing screams maturity more than a sweaty mosh pit and angsty rock music.
Here are a few things that I did not do:
- I didn’t buy a lottery ticket.
- I didn't get a tattoo. It's something I'm considering, but I'm not ready for the commitment yet.
- I didn’t go to a strip club. Not really my ambiance, if you know what I mean.
- I didn’t buy cigarettes because I’m not as poetic as Augustus Waters.
What I did learn when I turned eighteen was that the age on my driver’s license doesn’t determine if I’m an adult or not, I do. And I’m not ready to be an adult. I struggle enough trying to get my homework done, so I’d probably be a hot mess if I had to always do the laundry and cook for myself and....PAY TAXES! There’s a part of me that enjoys the perks of being legal, but for right now, I want to relish in being a teen for a little while longer. I still feel kind of nervous about life in general, as if I still need quite a bit of guidance and support. My mistakes are to a certain degree still forgivable because they’re shrouded by a bit of naïveté, and wowza do I make a lot of mistakes.
Around this time last year, before I turned seventeen, I was venting to my older cousin via text about how I both enjoyed and feared getting older. I was scared that as soon as you turn some magic number, all innocence was lost. She assuaged my fears by texting back, “Naïveté has no age limit.” I visited her in New York for my birthday and she repeated those words in person as I blew out the candles on my cake. In a way, New York City helped me understand what she meant. NYC wasn’t new to me; on the contrary, it was probably the fifth time I’d been there. But even though I’d previously traversed the streets of Manhattan, everything felt new and beautiful to me. I still had an innate curiosity in the city and the people that lived there that no matter how many times I visit never disappears but rather manifests itself in new and different ways, and that’s the same naïveté that I was afraid I’d lose.
There’s probably some document sitting in some big marble building in DC stating that on the day of my eighteenth birthday I’m suddenly an adult and I must think like one. Personally, I’m not quite sure a wrapped up piece of parchment rings true in my life. I’m eighteen and yes that means I’ll be confronted by several important decisions and responsibilities pretty soon in my life. But that doesn’t mean I can’t approach the world with the same curiosity and wonder that I did when I was seventeen or even seven.