Culture

The (Dis)comfort of Adulthood: A Meditation on Being Eighteen

Sara Michael ’23
Design Editor/Staff Writer

Whenever my birthday is around the corner, a feeling of overwhelming gratitude and reflectiveness tiptoes into my consciousness.

I always thought of turning 18 as the defining moment in one’s life. Growing up, I had this goal that I’d finally exchange my romantic vision for a realistic perspective: I’d finally stop depending on other people.

A lot of these expectations came from comparing myself with my idols. At 18, Aretha Franklin began singing professionally, Edgar Allan Poe published his first book of poems and Mozart had been composing minuets for over 13 years.

Unlike these great historical figures, my year of 18 has been one filled with incredibly ordinary moments. Moments spent slicing apples at the kitchen table, folding warm laundry and tossing coins into bubbling fountains. At the same time, there have been moments and people who have made this year extraordinary. I chose a college, graduated high school, moved out of my house and into a dorm and met and made some forever friends.

At 18, one simultaneously feels a sense of responsibility and possibility. It is the voting age, the age to enlist, the age of being held responsible for criminal activity and the age of buying lottery tickets at gas stations at 1 AM on a Wednesday. There is something at once wonderful and intimidating about maturation.

Being 18 means that I am at the threshold between childhood and adulthood. 10 years ago, I was reading Junie B. Jones and had barely retired from using training wheels. I have no idea where I will be 10 years from now and that terrifies me.

That feeling of terror has evolved. I used to think, and I might not be alone in this sentiment, that because I don’t quite know what I want to do in the future, there was something faulty with me. I recognize now that there is undoubtedly comfort in mapping out your dream future, but there is also no one route or path that any adolescent must follow. Just because you aren’t specialized doesn’t mean you aren’t special. We are so young, and there is so much time left and so much life left to explore.

18 has been dancing barefoot on the carpet to Ed Sheeran; it has been straining pasta with a coffee filter; it has been that not quite awake but not quite tired feeling of wonder and giddiness, hope and ambition. I can’t wait for 19.

Illustration Credit: Jasmine Sloan ’23

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