A very overdue post on turning eighteen.
There comes a day in all of our lives that we must inevitably pass the threshold of adulthood. For me, that day was last week.
Eighteen is a bit of an awkward age to be in. To some – high-schoolers, for example – I am a grown-up mature adult. To others, I am young and inexperienced.
I garnered a mix of surprised and envious reaction when my friends learned that I was “only eighteen,” from “Wow, you’re so young!” to “I wish I was eighteen again.”
Regardless, it’s certainly not an age that I would be considered old.
Anyways, it is a significant day in my day in my life. So I thought this day deserved at least some reflection and acknowledgment.
Unlike other kids, I was never in a hurry to grow up. Growing up meant learning how to “adult.” It meant filing your own taxes, becoming familiar with acronyms like SSN, IRS, HB1, APTC, and much more. Growing up was more responsibility, less genuine relationships.
Objectively speaking, I’ve been pretty sheltered and spoiled growing up. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to have access that all my material wants and desires – within reason. I’ve been blessed with a loving family who has always provided me with the best. The truth is I’ve never had to really work for anything.
I’ve faced no significant financial obstacles. My path from attending a prestigious public Chinese elementary school to elite private middle schools and high schools, and now attending a prestigious college, was so simple and natural that it seemed also predetermined and inevitable from birth. It’s easy to see why I’m reluctant to leave this sheltered, comfortable adolescence behind me.
When we were younger, our experiences were defined by our parents and our environment. Now, however, we are independent beings. We have the power to define our own identities. We get to decide how we want to spend our lives. As both Kant and Nietzsche has explored intimately, growing up is ultimately about learning to think for ourselves. It is actively seeking to challenging and subvert the inbuilt assumptions that we’ve been given so far.
By entering adulthood, we leave behind the life of passive acceptance that we once led. Only by doing so can we experience the full complexities of the human experience.
So here’s to the rest of this beautiful, ugly, exciting, monotonous, enjoyable, agonizing journey we call life.