Adult by Technicality

On September 16, 2014 I turned eighteen. I can drive. I can vote. I can die for my country. I can choose to quit education, or to pursue a degree. I can put permanent marks on my body. I am an adult, technically.

Since my birthday in September, I have had a series of nine interesting months. During these months there have been times when I feel like an adult, and times when I have felt like I am five years old, and just about everywhere in between. Right now, for example, I feel like I’m in sixth grade writing a diary, but I’m not, I’m writing about what it means to be an adult and a kid at the same time, and how that continues to confuse me every day.

Flash forward two days, to the eighteenth of September. This was a nice warm Saturday night, my first Saturday night as an adult, should be great right? Wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I was up all night, but not in the way you might be thinking. I was admitted to the hospital for a lovely kidney stone at 2 AM.

In a way I guess this was a moment when I actually felt like an adult. Most people don’t get kidney stones until they’re at least 65, and I got medication that normally only middle aged men should get. Still, during these six hours in the emergency room I felt like I was seven years old again with a bad flu, and all I wanted was for my mom to make it better.

On the first Tuesday of last November I got to vote. I stood in line and filled out the registration form. While waiting I smiled, proud that I remembered my social security number for the first time. I felt like an adult for about two minutes, then I got to my booth and my pen ran out of ink. I didn’t know if I was allowed to switch to another booth. I glanced around nervously. I saw my parents were already done. All I could think was shit shit shit shit shit. After much scribbling the pen finally started to work. Then, I was faced with the challenge of not laughing when the “Legalize Marijuana Now” party took me off guard. Apparently there’s an entire political party named that? Okay, focus, you’re an adult. Voting is serious.

I thought I was done with the obstacles of voting. Apparently not. I watched others put their ballot in the machine while walking up to it. Can’t be that hard. I was wrong yet again. When it was my turn to put my ballot in the machine something went wrong (possibly not the machines fault) and my ballot got jammed.

While a line formed behind me one of the volunteers came over, I explained that the machine was stuck, they proceeded to stare at me with blank expressions. Cool guys, good job helping. While they went to call the helpline I made one of my very first adult decisions and left the building with my parents trailing behind me, making fun of me.

In late December I got home from work on a Saturday to find my older sister sitting at the kitchen counter with my parents, she must have just gotten home from college that day, my mom was asking her question after question about school while my dad cooked. I said hello and sat down next to my sister. My mom turned her focus to me saying that they had just gotten the mail, and there was a letter for me from the voting administration. She asked if I remembered how my ballot got stuck in the machine, I said yes. My dad proceeded to tell me that they were unable to count my vote because of my little incident.

To put it lightly, I was upset. My first vote as an adult couldn’t be counted? Just because of a technical difficulty? Are you kidding me? As I read the letter my facial expression must have changed because the slight smile on my parents’ face faded quickly. The letter simply stated that I was now registered to vote. As usual, my parents had fooled me.

On February 26th my English class received an assignment to read an article about questions that make people fall out of love. But it was the assignment that followed that was interesting to me. We were assigned to think of questions that would make a high school couple fall out of love.

All of the students in this class are seniors, probably half have turned eighteen by this point, yet the relationships we have are not yet considered adult. It’s not that I’m offended, I’m really not, it’s the fact that we are given adult responsibilities, jobs, advanced college coursework, ect., yet the relationships we have with each other are considered less-adult than others.

This event in particular made me feel not like a child or an adult, but like a pure unsophisticated adolescent desperately trying to be an adult.

On April 16th of this year my dad hollered for me to come down stairs. When I got to the bottom of the stairs he asked me what I knew about taxes… and when they were due. Oops. Apparently I forgot to do my taxes. How do old people remember this shit? At this moment I was a freshmen in high school that left their homework at home, again, stammering to the teacher about how my dog ate it. I felt unprepared and unorganized while I wondered what I’m going to do when I don’t have my parents around to check these things for me.

Now it is May, I have been an adult for nine months. I think there will always be times when I feel like a child, at least I hope so. Becoming and being respected as an adult is important to me, but remembering that I am still a kid is also important.

I think that these past few months have taught me that there is no way to become an adult overnight. There is no magical transformation on the day you turn eighteen. Becoming an adult is a process which I am nowhere near completing. Maybe as I grow older these events where I feel childish will be slowly fazed out.

Maybe I will eventually become an adult, but until then I am happy to be only technically an adult.