on seventeen

I’ve always wanted to take a moment to reflect back on what it meant to turn 17. Even though my birthday was way back in March and I’m approaching 18 now, turning 17 still felt like a huge milestone. Sure, I inherited two TPHS clubs, got my driver’s license, and finished college apps, but there’s something bigger than all that. Something intangible.

When I was 14, I felt like I was still in the category of a “youth” — a child. At 15 and 16, I perceived my age as an annoying between-age, neither child nor adult. At dinner parties, I never knew if I had to entertain the 8-10-year-olds or if I could freely — or rather, awkwardly — attempt to converse with adults. But at last, at 17, I felt like I had entered an age of full responsibility, of adulthood. Really, I think that 17 is the first age that fully loses the connotation of “child,” and that’s what I felt on my birthday.

Of course, 17 is just a number. Throwing off a connotation does not mean that I magically have much more to talk about at New Year’s Eve parties. But at least I have graduated from playing with pre-teens to starting conversations with my fellow adults, and having an interesting comment to contribute to someone else’s conversation. Each succeeding month brings a new boatload of experiences that bring me closer to being able to think, act and converse like a mature adult. Because in the end, that’s really all that separates us and those older than us — experience and the changes it causes.

by Joshua Send