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.
It’s a funny age, eighteen. 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. I knew that the phrase “don’t grow up, it’s a trap” had a ring of truth to it. 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 have always provided me with the best opportunities and experiences. The truth is I’ve never had to really work for a thing in my entire life.
I’ve faced no significant obstacles. It’s easy to see why I’m reluctant to leave this sheltered, comfortable childhood behind me.
But a life of pleasure and instant-gratification is an incomplete life.
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.
This reminds me of a quote by Nikita Gill:
“They say, ‘Yes you will suffer.” But they don’t say, “But you will also experience the deepest of joys. You will experience the births and deaths of the greatest loves. And the sun warming the blood under your skin after the coldest of winter. And the rain against your window will sing you to a peaceful sleep. And you will awaken some mornings in the arms of someone who will love you most of all. There will be moments when your soul will gleam so beautifully, even the universe will bask in your happiness. Yes, you will suffer. But you will be happy beyond your wildest dreams. And that will make every second of the suffering worth it.” They should say that. Because it is that balance that makes us beautifully and softly human.”
So here’s to the rest of this beautiful, ugly, exciting, monotonous, enjoyable, agonizing journey we call life.