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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Column: Our last summer

When I was 16, I wanted to be 18. Then when I turned 18, I couldn’t wait to be 21. After that, there’s not another age which anyone looks forward to. Every age gained after 21 will just be another passing of a year.

Besides, becoming an adult is frightening. There are so many uncertainties that lurk beyond the threshold of youth, and venturing out into the adult world — where we must take an active part in our lives — is foreign.

For the first couple decades of our existence, everything is pretty much mapped out for us by our parents. Each day is the same quotidian routine of waking up, going to school, extracurriculars, homework, sleep and repeat. The next day is predictable and, likewise, the next decade is foreseeable.

And though this humdrum, and perhaps mechanical, way of life seems boring now, it won’t be in the near future. Once we graduate, we’ll find ourselves yearning for those lazy school days when we can just shuffle from class to class and be greeted with the old familiar faces of friends and teachers.

Waking up to a midterm is better than waking up to find that we must fend for ourselves, nudging and elbowing our way through life to get to the top. And when bad things happen, we can’t turn to our parents to make it better.

Long gone will be the days when we get sick and all we had to do was sit in the car while Mom drove us to the doctor. All of a sudden, we’ll find ourselves comparing health insurance plans and making our own calls to the hospital.

Furthermore, when we want to buy something, we won’t casually pull out our allowance to get it. As adults, before we buy anything, we will ask ourselves first whether the item was ethically produced, what percentage of profits will go to the corporation or to the field workers, what the cost will do to our monthly expenses and how the item will incorporate into our taxes.

Responsibilities will number by the dozen each day. If you are one of those people who can barely wake up for your classes or cook for yourself now, the thought of one day buying a house and feeding your family is too intimidating to entertain.

It’s no wonder, then, that the percentage of students attending graduate school is increasing despite the augmentation in tuition. Being a student is choosing a safe and worry-free life. The school environment is familiar and comforting. It’s easier to learn about world problems in class and write equations to mitigate high inflation rather than face it ourselves.

That’s why the thought of one day becoming an adult is so nerve-racking. We’re not prepared. For the last 20 or so years, all we have known is how to be students. We know how to take notes, memorize and raise our hands. But do we know how to apply for a mortgage loan? Can we pay for our bills and do our taxes properly?

Unfortunately, there’s no book or class called How to be a Grownup 101. With our student mentality, we are expecting adulthood to be similar to an exam, but I’ve been told there’s no better way to prepare for being an adult than to actually be one.

The truth is we most likely won’t even know when we’ve become full-time adults. There’s no appointed date and time when we shed our immature ways and suddenly turn into all-knowing beings. There’s no ceremony or rite of passage for entering into adulthood – no orientation, no tutorial.

There’s really no transition period. It just happens out of the blue. The sad part is, in the midst of getting used to being adults, we won’t even realize that our summers are gone forever.

Unless we become school teachers, we will no longer get three months off at the end of the school year to lounge around and do absolutely nothing.

As adults, every season will blend together into a long, continuous ribbon of work and family. And while it will technically look like summer outside your office window, the season will essentially be meaningless.

Want to be a kid forever? Tell MICHELLE NGUYEN at michellen1990@yahoo.com and she will make it happen.


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