Things I Have Learned Before Turning 21

Here's to me turning 21 today, March 09, 2015!
Here’s to me turning 21 today, March 09, 2015!

Coming of age can be a lot to handle. Like a whole lot! It’s like hearing Uncle Ben whispering at your ear the same thing he said to Peter with that raspy cold voice: great power comes with great responsibility. But it’s the taste of f-r-e-e-d-o-m which will make the whole aging fun.

However, coming of age can also be demanding – mentally. Everyone expects a great deal from you. It’s like you are expected to produce something more valuable than e=mc2 or Harry Potter or whatnot. It can take on its toll on you and before you know it, you are suffocated with a lot of pressure coming from people who expect a lot from you.

What people need to understand is that you can only take just as much. Turning the last page of chapter 20, I am now ready to start with chapter 22. The last few chapters taught me a couple or two about life. And it will take some time of getting used to. Example:

  1. Everyone starts to address you as “young-adult” – awkward, I know. But I’ve seen it in movies and read on books and trust me, this has got to be the hardest. Leaving the threshold of teenage years and entering a whole new world can be shocking. But the formula was never growing down, it’s always growing up.
  2. New credentials – the world of adults is like a test –  you have to prepare for it. You will start to make transactions on your own and these transactions require valid IDs, clearances, papers and papers and papers. These are credentials and you have to get them A-S-A-P.
  3. You get immunity from incriminating laws of your parents – this is the fun part, Freedom becomes more precious that gold. Your parents are starting to let their grip loose on you and will allow you to go to parties, remove your curfews, and all that. The laws and walls your parents put up when you were younger will start to crumble down but take note to take full responsibility of your actions.
  4. You have to act according to your age – eventually, society will squeeze this out on you. Your actions should always be well thought of and your decisions are supposed to be sound enough. People will expect you to behave humanely, always reminding you that you are a kid no more. And you will always hear them say, “it’s part of growing up.”
  5. It’s okay to make mistakes once in a while – coming of age means becoming conscious of everything. Not becoming a programmed robot. You are allowed, still, to make mistakes because obviously you’re still a human. But making mistakes and turning it into a hobby? No! Not cool!
  6. Is it just me or this show is getting corny? – a question you will start to ask as your understanding and taste will start to shape up too. Eventually, the whole coming-of-age thing will sink in and will become a part of your system. You will be forced to forget the things you are used to do and will have a clean slate, one that will sync with your age.
  7. You get tougher and will protect your interests – your rights as an individual becomes more pronounced and clear and will protect them whenever they are compromised. This is true as you have more understanding than before. They will start to mean something to you because society will push you against the wall and you have no option but to fight back – fair and square.
  8. Follow your dreams – this is also a stage of great confusion or as psychologist would say, mid-life crisis. You might find yourself unsure of what will happen to you after college graduation or you will ask yourself if you did take the right course. Regardless of the situation, follow what your heart dictates and plan strategically.
  9. People are mean – majority of them. None in this world is going to care 100%. Like you, they also have their own interests and that makes them selfish and cruel and vile. Luckily, life will prescribe you to be the same. Not because you want to retaliate but because you want to survive the world of adulthood. Remember, keep your friends close!

The truth is, you don’t have to turn 21 just to realize these stuff. Some of us are more mature during our younger years while some of us – like me – we bloom rather late. Regardless, age is just a number, young is attitude and knowledge is character. Enjoy learning life because life is fun to learn. (by Juseph Elas)


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