Why Eighteen is the Perfect Age to Be

January 3, 2013 12:00 pm

Having just turned nineteen and waiting for the beginning of my second term at university, I was initially looking forward to what the new year had to offer: settling into university, enjoying a long summer holiday, then moving in with new people at the beginning of the next academic year. Then I had to book an optician’s appointment. No Eye test childrenmore free appointments. £37.50 for an eye-test! And all because I have turned nineteen.

My eighteenth year wasn’t without its stresses and difficulties – taking all my A-level exams, receiving university offers then dealing with the change of moving to university itself. But it occurred to me, on hearing the amount I’d have to pay to tell me that my short-sightedness is getting progressively worse, that eighteen is the perfect age to be.

For one thing, it’s the age that you officially become an adult. Instead of being treated like a child or moody teenager, you can stand on your own two feet and find your own way in the world. You can open a bank account (even if you have very little money like every other eighteen year old) and you can finally do exactly what you like with your life, free from being told what to do. It’s suddenly OK to make decisions on your own without being told which is the right thing to do by your parents. Until, of course, you make your own decision and then find out that your parents were right anyway.

This realisation might be initially frightening especially if you’re one of those who hates making important decisions. But that’s another reason why eighteen is the perfect age to be. You’re not expected to make correct decisions. It’s OK to make certain mistakes because you’ve only just become an adult and you’re still learning what that means. For those eighteen year olds starting university, for example, learning how to budget and save money, is not easy and can easily go wrong. But help is out there because you’re learning how to be fully independent and how to cope with suddenly having a lot of money of your own.

And of course there’s the excitement of alcohol and clubbing for an eighteen year old. It’s officially the party year. You’re celebrating the fact that you can now make a fool of yourself in public by drinking too much and that you can go clubbing until the early hours of the morning with your friends. Eighteen brings all the rights of an adult, but all the fun of being a seventeen year old.

Homer Simpsons Doh

By the time you reach nineteen, however, the fun is set to change. More money will be taken away from you: £40 for an optician’s appointment (not even including the cost of the glasses themselves), £20 for a dentist appointment (more if work on your teeth is needed), the continued extortionate rates of car insurance. All regardless of the fact that if you are a student in full-time education like myself, you are compelled to pay £9000 a year, plus living costs, for the privilege of being at university.

It’s also the point where the word ‘career’ begins to haunt you. It’s no longer acceptable to say that you don’t know what to do. Instead you have to start thinking about a future life–getting work experience, applying for jobs or postgraduate degrees, deciding where you want to be based in your job. The list is never-ending. Gone is the partying; in comes seriousness.

That’s why, as I am beginning my final teenage year, I’m almost wishing that I was eighteen again. I wouldn’t have said that it was my happiest year. Far from it. It was probably the most stressful and difficult. But considering all the life-changing events to come, and paying for the first time ever to tell me that I’m short-sighted in a few days’ time, I’d give anything to be eighteen again. To all those seventeen-year-olds out there, enjoy the coming year whilst it lasts; it will undoubtedly be the best of your life.

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