North Shore privilege keeps us young

Max Minogue

Right now, as you, my loyal reader, read my words, I am officially an 18-year-old man. To everybody who wished me a happy birthday yesterday, thank you. To everybody who did not, you mean nothing to me.

Eighteen is the big year. It’s the year that is nationally referred to as adulthood, albeit young adulthood.

I can now officially be tried as an adult for any future crimes I commit. I can buy a pack of cigarettes, along with a Juul and spray paint to make myself the coolest kid there is.

I get to vote. I get to watch porn. I can be drafted into the military. I can get myself some tattoos and gauges and piercings. The list of new responsibilities and freedoms goes on.

The only things I really can’t do at this point, because of my age, are ingesting or possessing alcohol and renting a car.

This was a moment that I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. When I was a kid, I always idealized adulthood. It was this ultimate point of freedom to me. 

I was even excited to do things like budget my own money and be in charge of my own meals, because no matter how mundane, it would be for myself. And being eighteen years old meant finally being able to do these things, at least in my eyes.

Considering how long I’ve waited to reach this point, it’s a really odd feeling to finally be here.  I expected this transition to be special, significant, or at the very least noteworthy in some way.

But so far, I’m not quite feeling it. I don’t feel any more adult, nor do I feel like I’m being treated any more adult.

My parents still treat me as their child, still the baby of the family. My teachers still act the same. My boss treats me as the same high school employee. My friends still act the same, and age gaps between us mean practically nothing.

Looking forward, it still doesn’t look like anything is really going to change. Of course, I’m not speaking from my own experience but from other people’s. But in college there is still an immense safety net that treats kids as not-quite-adults.

The fact that as adult high schoolers we haven’t reached college yet only maintains the idea that everybody is still a child.

The most surprising thing about all of this, however, is the fact that, now legally adult, I think I’m okay with being treated like a child for a little bit longer.

I’m at that point in senior year where now, every week or so, I’ll have a sudden moment of sentimentalism as I remember how quickly high school is coming to an end. The days of a nightly dinner cooked by mom or dad are coming to an end. Those beautiful Sundays where I get to sleep in, with my dog laying by my side, aren’t going to last forever.

That’s a scary feeling. Change is afoot and it’s coming way too quickly, even though my whole life I’ve been acting like I am 100% prepared for adulthood.

In our community especially, the journey to adulthood is especially dragged out.

College, or at the very least post-high school plans, are practically a given, while in many parts of the country, and especially the world, it’s a privilege. Being treated as an adult is something fought for by kids through curfew or an allowance, while in other places it means parenting siblings or having a job to contribute to the family.

Most importantly, we’re afforded the privilege of, even at eighteen, maintaining goals for the future that others could not even dream of due to lack of opportunity.

I guess the most adult change that I’ve truly felt is the fact that I’m appreciating how good I’ve had it. I still get to dream and fantasize about future college plans, jobs, and travels. I still get home cooked meals from parents. I still have people trying to control my life, sure, but it’s done out of worry or concern.

I just hope that finally reaching this appreciation isn’t a sign that my childhood is soon going to be gone for good.