By the time I was ten, I wanted to dye my hair blond. At 12, I wrote in a journal that I was going to run away. Around the age of 14 I fought for people – but most importantly, myself – to accept me irrespective of my sexuality. 16 marks the period in which I discovered my purpose, to make a change. In one way or another I’ve done all of these things, through various proxies like bleach on a best friend’s toothbrush or a personal blog I’ve come to call home. Now the question remains: what is 18?
Maybe 18 means freedom. It’s always funny to me when my friends talk about purchasing cigarettes or buying lottery tickets. When I think of my rights as an adult, I imagine staying at my friend’s house for the night to escape my mom – now, no note necessary. My mind conjures a collage of all the times I’ve been abused, and the thought of 18 sends that collection flying out the window. It’s bittersweet, the breaking of toxic bonds and the inheritance of individual responsibility. A significant part of me screams: this is what you’ve wanted all your life!
There’s a chance 18 epitomizes a new self. This represents a different type of freedom, a revitalization of who I am. Yesterday, I donned my friend’s fabulous high heels, and next week, I’m wearing a dress to school. Yes, I identify as a guy, but no, I don’t care if people think I look like a girl. High school has helped me find my center, my confidence, my security. Now, I need to take risks and try new tasks. Without the worries of who will judge me or what my family will think, I can finally
proclaim my love for fictional characters in public and scare away all potential real life suitors set out in this whole wide world as an open spirit. I won’t abandon my morals – after all, they’re what’s gotten me this far – but I’ll adventure more, meet fresh faces. Wearing a dress will most likely be a one time thing; the heels, on the other hand, might be a different matter.
Perhaps 18 represents a milestone. All my life, I’ve had a goal. Be a better reader, get into college, improve my writing, make a difference. It’s one step after the next, a steady input of effort and a comforting output of results. Getting to 18 without giving in to the family drama, the disappointments
like every time I got less than an A, and the difficulties has proven tough, yet pulchritudinous. I dislike rewarding myself, but if there’s one time I deserve to, maybe it’s now. Maybe it’s here. Maybe it’s this passage from childhood to adulthood, this transition from naive youth to new age.
I’ve decided that 18 exemplifies possibility. It isn’t anything special, really – just another day, another year, a set amount of hours, minutes, and seconds to spend on whatever I choose. And that’s the key: in many ways, I can do anything. No, unfortunately I can’t f0rce everyone on earth to read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe or somehow persuade Joseph Gordon-Levitt to go on a date with me. But the future is rife with opportunity, chances to expand my mind, to improve my craft, to find new friends and to deepen the relationships with the ones I already have.
18. 18. 18.
It means whatever the heck I want it to mean.