‘I Turned 18: Let’s Get Drunk’
It’s been said that 18 is the time for coming of age. To have an almost profound realisation as the clock strikes midnight, and suddenly understand the true meaning of independence and maturity. The age that is synonymous with adulthood and waving those frivolous, childhood fantasies goodbye. Instead opening your arms to the new opportunities granted to you by having an ID that claims you’re a fully functioning, legal adult who can make their own choices and buy their own drinks.
I always got asked, how does it feel to be 18? It has been roughly a month since I hit that beautiful, blessed age, and I can safely say that I feel nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Maybe this is because I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke, and I live in London so frankly the desire for a driving licence is less heavy on my mind. Similarly I live with my parents and harbour little desire to rapidly enter the big bad world of bills with little over £100 in my account. Clubs are wasted on me as the pressing issue of A levels restricts my ability to enjoy churning out party filled nights. And, above all, I don’t feel mature.
Regardless of how much time has passed since England officially declared me an adult, I’m still the girl who watches the ‘Winnie The Pooh’ movies when I’m too sad to leave my bed. I still get excited when I go to the park, and I compete with people on who can get higher on the swings. I get ice creams in cones even though I know it’s horribly impractical and only makes one massive mess, and I giggle every time someone says ‘bosom’ or ‘buttock’ (however I feel like that is a perfectly rational thing to giggle at). I feel as far away from maturity as it gets. For Gods sake, people still aren’t going to believe me when I show my ID in the cinema if I want to watch an 18, they barely let me into a 12 when I was 16!
But the thing is, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels, like this, or does those things. Unless I’m horribly mistaken, I don’t think I’m an exception. But sometimes what I do feel like an exception in, is expressing those things. There is a constant fear festering in me that I am just seen by others as an immature idiot. That I am naive and don’t have a clue about what it’s like to be a teenager. But I do. I get it, but I don’t really want it. Not that I feel above anyone else, and morally superior due to sobriety, but I don’t want to be ’18’ yet. I don’t want to let go of the kind of simplicity that childhood has. And it’s sad because ’18’ isn’t really ’18’ anymore, you know? It’s obvious. People have alcohol at their parties and care about how their makeup looks by the time they’re 16, or 14 or maybe younger, I don’t know. In which case, in the eyes of the youth, I have the maturity level of an 8-year-old by this point.
I don’t know how this age of expectancy crept up on me so quickly.When I was younger I saw the people in my sixth form as a million miles away from me, both in maturity and honestly in height. It frankly terrifies me that anyone I know may be going to university next year. I was meant to be cooler by then right? I was meant to be more confident, and sure of myself by then, right? I was meant to finally hit 5’4 by then, right?!?
I can’t help feelings of inferiority. The need to prove myself to others and join the mythical club of the mature. It’s a feeling I think I’ve always had only now fully manifesting because of an ungodly deadline, an unfair expectation. Like I’ll be struck down and penalised if I dare bring up anything verging on immature, simply because everyone else seems to think that. Unfortunatelt, its a rational irrationality to me.
So? How does it feel to be 18? It feels scary, but unsatisfying. It feels like an expectation I’m not ready to fulfil. It feels like a tipping point, a leap into the unknown. But really? How does it feel to be 18? It feels exactly the same as 17, and 16 and all the other birthdays before that and into the future. At the tender age of 18, I am not quite ready to let go of my childhood fantasies and frivolous thoughts yet, and maybe I won’t be ready until I’m 28 or 38, maybe never. And that’s okay with me, I hope that’s okay with you.