“Congratulations Tasha! You’re 18! Ready for a life of unending tax forms you don’t know how to fill and a house full of college debt? Get it? House full? It’s funny because you won’t be able to afford a house with all your debt. See? Ironic.”
I’m almost two weeks into this whole “adult” thing, and quite honestly, I still don’t know what being an “adult” means. What a mystery, right? I know it has something to do with taxes and, because I’m Alaskan, the Permanent Fund Dividend. I know I can vote now, too, although I still have to register. Being an “adult” definitely has to do with filling out more forms. I’ve always been an autonomous individual but this — this may take some getting used to.
Birthdays have always zipped past my mind. I didn’t realize the Big 18 was coming up until three days beforehand, and even the morning of I forgot. Instead of a visit from the Tooth Fairy, I got a visit from the Growth Sprite, who is commonly mistaken for a Growth Sprout. That day, I had been magically transformed from funky, socially awkward child Tasha into still mildly awkward adult Tasha. On the inside and in my mind, there is no difference. Yet, when I answer the inevitable “How old are you?” introductory small talk question, I feel bemused. Back when I could respond “17,” I felt like whatever childish mannerisms I had could be dismissed. The professionalism I developed too, could be seen as “impressive.” When I was 17, I had the upperhand: I was unexpected but not taken too seriously. At 18, I can feel the shift begin. I wonder, once I am out of high school, will I have to adopt an adult-like facade for the rest of my life? What happens next?
I like being childish as much as I like being an adult. Dancing in the middle of a street on a First Friday is my passion, but so is working with the Juneau Empire, the Alaska Legislature and with all of the causes I strongly believe in. Being 18 is odd because I know from this point onward I will be an adult, even though I don’t know if being an adult means I have to sacrifice dancing on the street. Or spontaneously singing Disney musical songs with my friends in public. Or even my style of writing. Am I allowed to write full-frontal pieces like these? Or do I have to write lyrical, mature articles? What’s better accepted: self-reflection pieces, or ad absurdum? Can I write with an eyebrow raised and a sardonic twinkle in my eye, or with a smile, wave and alert posture?
I like to use the word “awkward” for how I feel because there is no better word to describe the child-adult mish-mash I am. Undoubtedly, I will continue to sing Disney musical songs. I will probably continue to dance in the street. I will keep showing up at the Capitol, ready to use my best “outside voice” and the perfect posture my mom nagged me about when I was younger. I will write whatever and however I want because somehow, with enough experimentation, I will find what “being an adult” means through my writing. Actually, I think I might have started figuring it out.
• Tasha Elizarde is a high school senior living in Juneau. Her column comes out twice a month. She also writes “This Day in Juneau History” for the Juneau Empire. Read more at tashaelizarde.wixsite.com/thestorysharer.