On Turning 18


Photo courtesy of Life is Sweeter by Design

As I turn 18, I can’t help but think of all I’ve done and experienced throughout my life. It feels like just yesterday it was twin day and my best friend and I were trying to figure out what to wear for red ribbon week at elementary school. Only a few days before, I was excited to have my first preschool Christmas performance while singing songs about Santa. 

These days, I’m spending a lot more time worrying about the well being of my friends while carefully planning and making deadlines for college scholarship essays. I’m so busy running around everywhere that I really only briefly make a pit stop home to fall asleep each night, something of which younger me could not even fathom. 

Nonetheless, I’ve accomplished and learned a lot throughout my years. From being featured in an elementary school art-class display in 4th or 5th grade, to being a published author and in a position of leadership for over five clubs at once. 

I’ve ended up learning quite a few life lessons during 18 years, some of great importance to me. Such as: knowing when to step back from a situation I cannot handle, admitting when I need help, attempting to give everybody the treatment I would want to receive when they need help, and letting go when things can’t be done the way I planned.

As a student, who has been always encouraged to go the extra mile and being told that I am “full of potential” for years, I couldn’t figure out the real applications of such. I always understood that phrase to mean that I was academically a hard worker or, maybe, I was just blessed with the ability to understand content more quickly than some of my peers. I realize now that it takes a lot more than that to use potential, it means reflecting upon many life experiences and constantly picking apart the process to determine how to best go about similar situations. It means advocating for others, whether it be a single person in need of support or a much larger group unaware how to explain issues that they are facing. Most importantly, it means learning how to utilize your voice to make your opinions known amongst others, daring to take a step into the open and expressing hardships you’ve faced. 

Throughout my years, I’ve also learned many things about myself including how I am a queer and non-binary student with anxiety and depression. I’ve worked through hundreds of difficulties, including trying to roll out of bed to make myself food despite feeling as if my legs are nu

mb from the overwhelming lack of energy from depression. And yet still, within the prior daily occurrence of this feeling (something of which occasionally reappears during emotional-taxing weeks), I found reasons to keep rolling out of bed. At first it was for others, trying to keep their own concerns at bay in an attempt to establish that “yeah, I’m fine”. Eventually, the care was able to theoretically “wash” into my system, leaving me hopeful and excited on some mornings. Sometimes I’m motivated because of a promising meeting in which I am advocating for students at school who are too afraid to speak for themselves. Other times, it’s because I know there’s an iced coffee waiting for me to buy it from the Cocoa Cafe. 

Within all of these trying and rewarding tasks, I have experienced a slice of life from many of the different cakes it has to offer. Of course, there is always the occasional surprise of a cheesecake being thrown into the pile at life’s “taste testing table”, throwing me off guard and messing up my internal balance. However, even through my battles with mental illness and incidents of bullying, including having certain moments being lost from my memory due to depressive-blurs replacing those feelings over time to a blank slate of static and confusion, there is ultimately still the presence of joy. There is still at least one reason to reassure me that, each time I lie in bed, that the day was not wasted. 

So, no matter what the world throws at me next, whether it be raining fire from the sky or getting to enjoy a free ice cream, I am excited to have woken up today and been able to say: “I am 18.”