when i turned 19 i felt as if i had finished teenagerdom. i had lived an entire year as a legal adult after all. it wasn’t until i read a birthday card from my friend that said “enjoy your last year as a teenager!” that it hit me – nineteen is still a teen.
(at this point, many of my friends would probably say that they made this mistake because they’re not good at math. i would disagree and say that it is a mistake more relevant to language. “teen” is in the word itself, is it not?)
regardless, measuring age, experience, maturity is a strange thing. i consider myself to be the same age as everyone in my same year of schooling to be the same age as i am even though we could be as many as two years apart (or maybe more, who knows!) and for some reason it’s hard to determine the ages of people from other countries. i know people younger than i who seem years ahead of me, and adults decades older than i who sometimes act like children.
i want to be a teenager and i want to be an adult. i want to do something great and be commended for doing it at such a young age. i want the respect we grant people of a certain age just for being a certain age.
why do these things matter? they’re just labels, ultimately, and being young shouldn’t make a great thing any more or less great. as i get older i lose perspective on what children, younger teenagers, can do. they’re smarter than we give them credit for, i think. when i was five i directed a play. when i was seven i wrote a chapter book. at those ages i didn’t have a sense of what age you’re “supposed to be” to do those things, so i just did them. it was actually easier when i wasn’t as aware of how other people do things, what i’m expected to do.
the other day someone made the comment that these days adolescence has extended to the age of 30. whether or not this is true, what IS true is that adolescence is what you want it to be when you want it to be. there isn’t a turning point in which you’re thrown into adulthood, forced to leave your hello kitty toys behind. tomorrow i’m not a teenager. technically. but at heart? i can dream at whatever age i please. let’s shed the labels, including the burden or blessing of age, and live how we please.