Turning 18 pilots higher expectations



Photo courtesy of Alamy

Turning 18 is an extremely exciting birthday for many as it marks a sense of freedom from age restrictions. The day is usually celebrated more importantly than most birthdays with larger gifts and more ‘adult’ activities.

The rickety bridge from adolescence to adulthood is a highly anticipated occasion for many students, an expansion into a new world of partying, working and adulting. But is it really that glamorous, or is it just another year chock full of the stress of aging and approaching more influential birthdays?

Traditionally, 18 is considered a year of responsibilities as teens become legal adults and can ever so slightly remove themselves from under the parental thumb. As a result, this newfound independence doesn’t just include freedom, but also the not-so-fun initiative needed for experiences like medical visits and prescription pick-ups.

“I’ve legally had to pick up medicine, take my dog to the vet, go to the doctors by myself, etc. But it’s a double-edged sword because it’s more responsibility, but it’s a good responsibility to have,” senior Jack Kennon said.

Others disagree with the possible life altercation and account for a lack of change, with the same responsibilities as before their budding birthday.

“Other than knowing that I’ll face greater consequences and responsibilities if things go wrong in social situations, nothing else has really changed,” senior Kathleen Winter said

There’s also the inclusion of the importance of opportunities like the right to vote, which is freshly granted at age 18, along with certain jobs that are restricted to 18+. Both are near pivotal events that prove one’s maturity and ability to contribute to society.

I had the chance to vote for the midterm elections in November at Ashburton Elementary school, which was super exciting and really felt like a good contribution.

— Winter

As for occupational opportunities that open up after 18, there’s a large variety of well-known companies that require age restrictions.

“There are certain jobs that require you to be 18 like Lush, Lululemon, Altar’d State, etc. so I can apply to those jobs without worrying about age restrictions,” senior Emmy Tzeng said.

Alas, 18 isn’t all responsibility based. Social aspects tend to expand with newer experiences such as travel, college and a general connection between those heading towards or are already at 18. With adulthood comes a more mature territory, in terms of ditching the barbies and embracing the bars and clubs.

“I was able to have an opportunity like traveling to Canada and exploring the nightlife there along with skiing and a larger sense of freedom and adventure,” Kennon said.

Even so, some still disagree that 18 is more than just one year added to 17. For many, differing circumstances trap students from truly fulfilling 18.

“It doesn’t feel different from 17 honestly, in America at least. It’s just like another birthday,” Kennon said.

On top of one’s personal infractions, the school itself can have restrictive tendencies on these maturing ‘adults’ and how the classroom can’t teach them how to feel older but succeed in making them feel younger.

“Being in school while 18 is a new perspective because as an adult, you never hear other adults asking each other what grade you got on a test, or possessing a hall pass, late passed, or ID badges,” Tzeng said.

Along with the freedoms is the confining factor of remaining under your parent’s roof and the dependencies that accompany the walls of a home.

“I tend to think, ‘I can do so much more than you (younger friends)’, but I really can’t, because I still live under my dad’s roof,” Tzeng said.

Regardless, 18 is subjective. Whether it’s a life-altering event or just another trip around the earth; every 18-year-old will feel differently about their milestone birthday.

“Don’t change anything about yourself just because you’re turning 18. Don’t try to become something you’re not. Don’t try to pretend to be more mature than you are. Let that growth come naturally because it will,” Tzeng said.