Pretending to Grow Up

Rushing between my two morning classes, I made a quick pit stop at my school’s coffeeshop for my morning caffeine fix. This week has seen me studying hours upon hours upon hours, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay fully alert without some joe. Being 9:15am, the place was bustling and I was a little crunched for time myself. Quickly, I ordered a skim latte and a carton of milk, and as soon as my beverage was ready I dashed off to my next class. It wasn’t until I took my first sip that I realized, in my lethargy, that I hadn’t ordered a sugary drink, and I’d failed to add my own.

To drink this bitter cup, or to toss $4 straight into the trash and risk nodding off in the middle of my history lecture?

Like a  child eating mashed peas in her high chair, I squeezed my eyes shut and took a big gulp, hoping to get this ordeal over with as fast as I could.

I’m nineteen. This means that, legally, I’ve been of age for over a year. I like to say that I’m an established adult, and when I’m feeling particularly pompous, I flaunt it in front of my younger friends–in good humor, of course. But am I really an adult? When does adulthood actually happen? Maybe it’s the moment when I pay my first bills. Or maybe it’s even just moments like these, where I find myself in a lecture hall learning about the complexities of the French Revolution and medicinally, grudgingly slurping down a cup of pungent espresso and steamed milk. I don’t know if I can really count my collegiate years as the start of my adulthood. Sure, I’m living independently in a big city, and I have to fend for and take care of myself… at least, until mommy and daddy come save me from the big, bad school world and return me back to my safety net that is home.

Sometime it just feels like I’m a little girl playing dress-up with mommy’s heels, pretending to be a grown up just like her but really still being a child. I’m far more independent and burdened with responsibility than my six-year-old niece, but far more sheltered than my 28- and 33-year-old sisters. I’m not a kid, I don’t feel quite like a grown-up, and I’m in the last leg of my teen years, so I won’t even have the comfort of that label come December.

It doesn’t help that I’ve spent the past twenty-four hours studying for my philosophy exam; not only do I not know what I consider myself, I don’t even understand the essence of my existence at this point.

They look small, but they're mean little suckers.

The illusion theory states that there is no self that persists through time, and that I’m a completely new and different person than, say, the girl wearing red graduation robes just last May. The soul theory tells me that I’m the same person so long as I’m toting around the same soul; can we actually prove that my current soul, if I indeed have one, is the same one that was inside me even two hours ago? No. I thought I could accept the body theory, which says you’re the same person as long as you’re in the same physical shell, but when I look in the mirror, I look absolutely nothing like my Play-Doh-eating kindergarten self from roughly fourteen years ago. Am I still that kid? Am I even real? If I am, what do I classify myself as? And why is all of this thought springing from the gross latte I had to down a few hours ago?

Maybe there was something in my drink that’s making me go crazt. Maybe it’s the stress of my upcoming exam getting to me. Whatever the factor, I think I’m having something of a mini-identity crisis, and I’m not particularly sure what I should do about it.

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