Written By: Landon Watford
Finally, eighteen-years old, a legal adult. Over a decade of listening to NPR and only occasionally taking out the trash has prepared me for this moment. I can see myself now: lounging in a casino with a lottery ticket in one hand and a vape in the other, a pack of Redwoods in my lap, sitting on a throne of presidential ballots, jury duty notices, and army enlistment forms, all complemented by a flying dragon tattoo located just above my ankle monitor. Not only will I get all those totally awesome things, but my mentality will be different too. I am an adult: a sophisticated, thick-walleted, self-reliant adult. The only problem is… I do not feel any different than I did before my birthday.
Maybe my expectations were too high. I am sure that within the next month I will be filing tax returns like it is nobody’s business. Still, I am dumbfounded as to why I did not have an instant transformation into an adult, like the legal system led me to believe. Even though my birthday was enjoyable, I can not shake the feeling that it was somewhat anticlimactic.
Ever since I was in middle school I wanted to be a grown up. They had it all: freedom, independence, and best of all, no homework. As a little sixth grader that could not make his own lunch and whose sense of humor had failed to rise beyond mere flatulence noises, becoming an adult was a fairly big aspiration for me to strive for. And a lot has not changed since; though I have become more emboldened and motivated throughout my high school experience, astonishingly, fart jokes still give me a good giggle.
Despite being more developed, I still do not feel that I have truly matured. At eighteen, I am still living with my parents, still enrolled in public school, and still friends with the same people I met back in freshman year. In other words, I am a loser. It is impossible to grow, after a certain point, if I have been living in the same environment with the same people for an extended period of time. This is why I believe college is the final hurdle between youth and adulthood. Being placed in an entirely different surrounding, on my own, will expose me to new experiences, both positive and (more importantly) negative. These experiences also serve as a lesson that will teach me how to live independently- a lesson no public school can teach. Though the thought is terrifying, it seems like college may be my last chance at becoming a well-adjusted, functioning member of society rather than an immature, Cheez-It munching, hermit.
Even though my eighteenth birthday did not live to the fantastical expectations I had set, I have learned something far more valuable. It is not an arbitrary number that makes me an adult, but rather, it is time, experience, and loss, that will mature me into the man I will inevitably become.