What does being an adult mean?


As a freshman in college who isn’t 18 yet, I have a plethora of embarrassingly sad stories to share. For one, I got carded while buying cough medicine and was left defenseless against the freshman plague. There was that time I couldn’t participate in any psych studies, because they wanted adults only. And my personal favorite – some people in my all frosh dorm realized that they’re almost three years older than me and then called me a baby. These experiences were quite frustrating at the time, but now that I am much older and wiser, I can look back at them and laugh. I’ve been 18 for a week now, and I can say with assurance that this time has aged me. I no longer perceive the world through the eyes of a child, and I feel as though I have a better sense of who I am. If you believed anything I just said in the last three sentences, you should also take some time to check out a dictionary. I heard something about the word “gullible” not being in there.

Sarcasm aside, turning eighteen has been an interesting experience. It’s one of those birthdays that people just hype up. One day suddenly makes us grown up and accountable for our mistakes and actions. This can be scary but also empowering. Though I have not been an adult for too long, one thing I can appreciate is how my transition into adulthood doesn’t have to be drastic or happen all at once. I still have time to learn and grow, and I still have time before I have to really start “adulting.”

On the other hand, I am excited for the prospect of signing waivers for myself, buying lottery tickets and renting Zipcars for weekend excursions. I wouldn’t say being 18 feels any different, but there is an underlying feeling of freedom and self-empowerment that I acknowledge. I think it’s important to accept growing up and the responsibility that comes with this, while also remembering that this moment is the youngest you’ll ever be (unless a Stanford student creates a time machine startup). For my fellow seventeen-year-olds in college, hang in there! There’s hope on the other side.


Contact Ayushi Tandel at atandel ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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