After turning 18 at the end of June, I've already noticed the differences between being a minor and an (dramatic pause) adult. Everyone is excited for the positive aspects, but we can't forget the intense parts. Now there are choices to make and these choices may come back to haunt you. So, how do you stay on top of it? Here's what changes the most once you turn 18.
1. You have newfound responsibility.
It's something we've been lectured about straight out of the womb, but now it becomes real. In California, before you turn 18, you aren't allowed to drive other people. Now, however, you're responsible for the lives you drive around. Not only that, but you're responsible for your own life, too. There's no such thing as being tried as a minor once you turn 18 and Mom and Dad can't accept the blame for you anymore. While it was fun to be reckless when the consequences were no more than a grounding, it's vital to be extra careful now.
2. You can make life altering decisions.
One of the first "adult" things I did was purchase a lottery ticket. I didn't know how cheap it was, to begin with, and I also didn't recognize how exhilarating it is to possibly win millions of dollars. By the time I finished drafting what I'd do with the money (pay off college, buy an apartment in Greenwich Village and take a trip to Paris), I had already lost. Losing is such a buzzkill. It was a frank reminder that people dedicate their lives to winning the lottery and that there were much more addicting things available to me now, including cigarettes and even medical marijuana cards. Although I definitely don't endorse making those choices, once you become a legal adult, they are active choices you have to make and you have to be able to make the right one.
Getting a tattoo is another choice adulthood gives you and it can be one of the best ways to communicate self-expression. Despite being too afraid to get one myself, I think they can be so gorgeous and meaningful. The scary part is that it stays with you forever. Now that we're old enough to make this choice on our own, it's important to remember the consequences that come with it.
3. You can register to vote.
Last week I wasn't allowed to purchase Fourth of July poppers and now you expect me to help choose our nation's leaders? Difficult, but true. The choice to register to vote is one that you have to make on your own. Personally, researching and contributing to the economic and social policies in my state and nation is exciting; it's important to me to include my opinion. On the other hand, it is a lot of (here's that word again) responsibility. Voting without understanding the full details could be detrimental.
Despite all the responsibility that comes with your 18th year, like most things, it's a balancing act. Fun, fun, fun, but making sure you're on the right track. The changes here will only help to propel you to adulthood and start this awesome adventure.
Lead Image Credit: Eric Fancher, CMT