On Jan. 16, 2011, I turned 18 years old. Yes, I turned 18 in the year 2011. This is the part where you quickly do some addition and subtraction in your head and come to the conclusion that a first-year university student should already be 18 by the second semester. Well, not in my case.
It all started out when my older brother was in kindergarten. He would go to school and learn his ABCs, 123s and all sorts of shapes and colours. When he would come home from school, he transformed from a young pupil to a teacher as he shared all his newfound knowledge with me. As a result of my brother’s eagerness to teach, I was given an early admissions test for school. After I completed the test, the private school that I was going to attend said that they would accept me, although my parents were warned that I would not socially develop among my peers, heh.
Ultimately, at the age of four and a half, I found myself in school. I did my time, year after year, and at 17 I found myself attending the University of Manitoba. I had the freedom of being a university student but the apparent restrictions of being a minor. So, for those of you who can’t remember their 18th birthday and the transition between being a minor and being legal, let me fill you in on what happens.
It starts about a month before you’re officially 18. You have your first mental picture of what your 18th birthday is going to look like. For myself, I knew that I wanted a party. I wanted to spend my big day with those closest to me. After you have the initial brainstorming session, you forget about your birthday. As the next two weeks pass, you start to plan what you are going to do in detail. You decide whether to hit up the club with your “hommies” or to go to a pub with your “fellas.”
During this planning stage, I came to the realization that my birthday fell on a Sunday, not the most ideal party day, so I logically planned to throw a party the following Saturday.
When Sunday finally came, I was pretty excited. After all, I was about to catch up with all my friends. I was going to become an adult! I spent from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Jan. 16 with a bunch of 14-17 year olds who had thrown an after-party for a very impressive dinner theatre that they had put on. My younger brother was a part of the cast, so I got in. After heading home and getting a solid four hours of sleep, I went off to church. I spent all morning getting various types of birthday greetings and then went home for lunch with my family. After lunch, I felt sick and I sprawled out on the couch. Needless to say, I spent the rest of my 18th birthday wrapped tight in blankets.
By the following weekend I had recovered from my illness and had a party in my basement followed by a trip to Triple B’s billiard bar and lounge with some of my closer friends. The next day, all my birthday celebrations had been completed. It was all over . . . all the hype for turning 18 passed by faster than you could count to 18. But what did I get out of being 18? Not much . . . I stayed sober so I didn’t have a hangover, and I didn’t win millions of dollars off a scratch ticket.
I did, however, get some birthday presents, which is always pretty sweet. I also gained the right to vote, which I am particularly excited to exercise. I can now buy cigarettes! But I don’t smoke. Oh! And I can now by alcohol! Except for the fact that my taste buds still confuse beer for horse piss. I also got my own health card . . . yay . . .
As a culture, I believe we have put to large an emphasis on becoming legal. We glam it up as a monster event in life that will in some way define you. Albeit somewhat important, 18th birthdays do not need as much recognition as we tend to give them. I would hazard to guess that if we started celebrating birthdays as one year closer to death the hype would die out.