Turning 18 (published 1/2006)

Hi. My name’s Catie and I’m 18. That still has a weird ring to it…I’m just not used to the fact that I’m now legally an adult. I turned 18 on January 9th, which means I’ve been a ‘grown up’ for about 26 days.  So far, being an adult sucks.

Let’s see…what great change overtook me at the stroke of midnight? Did my brain suddenly understand all the problems of the world? Did the magical Birthday Fairy suddenly descend and offer me the keys to my own apartment and a road map to help me find my way in life?

Nope. I got nothin’. I woke up with the same bushy hair, in the same bed in the same messy room, the same jobless theatre nerd I was when I laid down the night before.
It’s funny. Every time I have a birthday, I wake up feeling exactly the same as…only suddenly, I’m a year closer to dying. (There’s a cheery thought to go with your morning coffee.)

Alright, maybe it isn’t as bad as I make it out to be. After all, I’ve been informed by various friends that I can now check out movies at Hy-Vee with my own card! I can even get a tattoo! I told my mom that. She…um…didn’t seem too excited by the idea. I ran before I could catch her exact thoughts on the topic. Several other friends suggested we ring in my 18th by going to a charming dance club named after one of the Dukes of Hazard….I passed.

The big thing many adults keep stressing is that now I can vote. It seems weird to me that last year the government told me that I wasn’t ready to vote, but now they tell me I’m ready to possibly determine who the leader of the free world will be! Personally, I think I’d be pretty good at it, but then my friends remind me that a nation-wide ban on rap music might not go over too well with some of my potential voters.

I didn’t think adult-hood was going to close in on me so fast…suddenly I’ve been clobbered over the head with the responsible stick, forced to talk seriously to people about what I want to be when I “grow up”.

Then I start thinking-am I already “grown up?”  How old is a “grown up”, anyway? Should I know what I want to do by now? What if I never figure it out? What if I’m the only person left in my class who isn’t certain about their future? (About at this point, I just go and rock slowly back and forth in a corner and mutter to myself.)

If you’re reading this early on Saturday morning, chances are I’m still asleep. I’ll be in bed for awhile yet, but eventually my mom will yell for me to get up and I’ll head out to violin lessons. After that, I’ll probable pretend like I’m cleaning my room for a few hours (while secretly reading Thursday Next again for the millionth time) and then I’ll head out to choir.

But if it’s early on Saturday morning, we’re both lucky. Neither of us –reader or writer- know what this particular Saturday morning will bring. And that’s what’s cool about life. I may be 18 now…but just like when I was 17, or when I was 16…or 5, or 3, or 11…I don’t know what’s going to happen to me today, or tomorrow…or next month.. I only know that on this Saturday morning-and the next Saturday morning after that, and the one after that, I’ll get up, smile at the fact that my room is still messy and my hair still looks ridiculous, and walk out into an unpredictable world full of unpredictable things, glad that I’ve been granted another year to learn, to grow and to discover what the world has in store for me.

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