The song “Ribs” (2013) by Lorde should be banned by the FDA for being a paralytic. From its pulsing instrumentals to Lorde’s constant declaration that “It drives you crazy, getting old,” the song evokes such a primal fear that my youth is slipping away by the minute. Now, I’ve never been one to define myself by a singular characteristic, always considering my identity to be an amalgamation of Los Angeles suburbanite, Korean American and person without a driver’s license. But as my teenage years are nearly ending, I am left with the realization that I have no idea what will come after this.
I am turning 20 in May, which means two things. The first is that my Sun is in Gemini and I am a Leo rising. And the second, more consequential, aspect to my 20th birthday will be that my official status as a teenager will be over. Did I waste my teenage years by abstaining from trespassing and hallucinogens? Was I robbed of wild young adulthood hazy memories because of the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act? I don’t really think so, but hearing the high school memories of 50-something adults makes me truly believe that laws and homework did not exist before the year 2000. So, when Lorde declares, “And I’ve never felt more alone / It feels so scary, getting old,” it reminds me of the terrible concept that time can pass with or without my permission.
Aging is scary. It is a process that can only be stopped by death or a really good surgeon. And I am certainly not ready for the “real world.” While some of my friends that I’ve talked to about this subject are eager to receive their diploma and head out to their WeWork startup of choice, I am less sure of what the non-Tufts world will have in store for me. There will be problems that can’t be solved by Carm iced coffee, and instead of going to different classes every day, I’ll probably be in some cubicle from 9 to 5.
Part of my personality has just always been that I’m a handful and a half. I don’t know basic math nor do I know how to follow a map. I always cry when rewatching childhood classics like “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2005) and “Matilda” (1996) and will never elect to eat salad. But my impending birthday makes me wonder at which age I will have to become an actual adult. I hate the word “adulting,” but the concept that there are some things, like taxes and bills, that adults have to do by virtue of being older than 18 is, at its core, an undeniable truth.
I’m reaching a point in my life that I’ve romanticized since middle school. I have “escaped” the idyllic suburbs, which received the brunt of my pre-teen angst, and now I’m in charge of making sure I eat food at normal human mealtimes, but what lies ahead is uncomfortably uncertain. So, my thoughts on adulthood are as chaotic as I am, and I’m okay with that.