Being an ‘adult’

“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



  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback






JDHS student selected for Murkowski internship

Joseph Monsef of Juneau-Douglas High School has been named a summer intern for U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Each year, interns from Alaska high schools... Read more

Thanks for supporting Juneau’s only adult day program

Thanks to the funding provided, The Bridge is able to offer services that allow seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible,... Read more