Adulthood is a funny thing. Despite all the speeches, nothing really prepares you for it. There are certain rites of passage that nobody warns you about. The first time you go grocery shopping for yourself. The first time you travel without your parents. The first time you go to the bank when you no longer need a cosigner. Your first day working at your first real job. The first time you realize you have a remarkably adult routine, full of remarkably adult activities, no more story time, no more games on the playground, no more wonder at everything you see.
The first time you unlock the door that is truly, fully yours, not your parents’ property. The first time you buy a piece of furniture with your own money. The first time you stay out late and realize no one is going to punish you for breaking curfew. The first time you do something stupid, and you recognize you won’t be punished, unless it’s by the police. The moment when you realize that your behavior, admirable or dismal, is entirely up to you, and your only authority is your own conscience. Your time, your activities, your companions are 100% your prerogative, and no one is going to attempt to direct or control you. You may find this freedom liberating or slightly intimidating.
Then there is the first time you see a young child. Maybe you don’t realize it. But eventually you may find yourself thinking how cute they are, how nice it will be to have your own children. Maybe you will note, with probably mixed feelings, how strange it is that these young humans are going through their childhood now, learning the things that children learn, doing the things that children do, while you, quite suddenly, are an adult doing adult things and thinking adult thoughts. Maybe you will realize for the first time that your childhood is gone forever. If you are really perceptive, you might even realize for the first time that you are aging, that one day your youth will end, that you will get old and die. Then maybe if you are brave you will start to think about the future, how your time on this earth will end. Maybe you will start to contemplate death for the first time. What will you miss the most? What will come after? How do you live knowing, with brutal, honest certainty that you won’t get out of it alive?
There’s probably hundreds of first times that nobody ever realizes until they do them. To all those standing on the platform alone, waiting for the train, plane, or bus, teetering on the precipice of the rest of their lives, with all their world packed up in a bag at their feet… well, here’s looking at you, kid. I hope you find what you’re looking for. Maybe now you might put more energy into every day, knowing that they pile up into weeks, months, years, and decades. Maybe you’ll put more thought into your actions and words. Maybe you won’t. You are, after all, an adult now, and all this is up to you.