Coming "Of Age"
In Latin America for young girls it's at their 15th birthday, and it's a quinceanera.
In the Jewish Community, it's when they're in their preteen stage, and it's a bar/bat mitzvah.
For Hindu boys it's, Upanayana for Dvija.
And in ancient Rome for girls, it's their wedding day, and the dedication of their dolls to Diana or Venus.
"Coming of age" rituals isn't a new concept. There are different rituals of these types for each culture, religion, and even in each of our own homes. It's how we celebrate a change in life and finding what it really means to "come of age." For some cultures it's sexual maturity, for others it's spiritual, and one that we are most aware of is, legally.
This past week I celebrated my 18th birthday, and by that, I mean I had a piece cake, and I went into a gas station, and for the first time, alone, and with my own money, I legally bought a lottery ticket. (Of course it was useless because the guy didn't even ask to see my ID; maybe it was because I was already pulling it out..?) Nonetheless, I guess I had thought about that moment for a good bit of my life. Not being in a gas station exactly, but turning 18. I guess that's just the culture that I was raised in though, one where everyone is told that everything will be different when you're 18. 18 is when your world basically changes, you can now legally do anything that you were restricted to by age before, except consume alcohol. 18 was the big age we all looked up to, when our childhood falls behind us becoming merely a memory, and the first stage our adult life commences.
Yet, while I had looked forward to that day for a good portion of my childhood, when the day came, I realized, it's just another day. Another day with the same bickering people, another day still having to work, another day still feeling tired. Besides the people close to you, no one recognizes the day as special, and you don't physically or mentally change. It's just the day to mark that you were born 18 years ago, and that's it.
Perhaps I knew I shouldn't have expected there to be a bang and suddenly all the answers to life be among me; trust me, I'd seen plenty of adults who hadn't found one half of the answer to life. So why did it matter? Why did I feel gloomy to be eating cake alone and buying a lottery ticket that only won me a dollar?
I understand now. A lot of the excitement in life is looking forward to things that we want to happen quickly. The actual thing isn't exciting at all. (Being an adult only means more responsibilities, and that's not terribly fun.) We get all worked up, expecting the best, and allowing ourselves to be let down, while we look past the life that we are living on a daily basis. But, perhaps instead of waiting and wishing for the time to pass for that thing to come, we should enjoy the life that is now, before we go wishing away our entire lives. I've only been 18 for a week, but, as an adult I've learned to not wish away the good things in life. The littler memories and joys that happen unexpectedly. Laughing with friends, enjoying someones company, finding the perfect dress that you'll keep until you can't wear it anymore. For though our daily lives seem to dull in comparison to the future, there are extraordinary moments that we will reminisce about and long to see again.
So, as an adult, I am making the conscious decision that from now on I will remember to look past the ordinary to the amazing things that are happening now. I want to appreciate everything that I've got before it slips away. My childhood is gone, and now the next chapters of my life are waiting to be written.
Perhaps there was nothing extraordinary about the day I became an adult, but one day, I'm going to look back and remember, there's beauty in a moment where an answer is found, and a dollar is won through the lottery.