(they really don’t grow up so fast)
Yesterday, I felt like an adult for the first time in my life, an especially important rite of passage for me as a Game employee refused to sell me the 15-certified Skyrim earlier this year because I didn’t look fifteen, despite the fact that I was seventeen. I walked into a bank (to set up an account) wearing a suit (because I’d just come from school) and was referred to as ‘Mr Casey’ (probably because of the first two things) for the duration of the meeting. I even had an appointment, for God’s sake.
Also, this wasn’t at all dampened by the fact that my Dad had arranged the entire thing on my behalf, meaning my involvement in this ‘adult’ world consisted entirely of showing up to prove that I exist, which is a criteria literally every human being on the planet can fulfil at any age, so the things that I actually did at the bank were hardly the actions of someone who’s ready to start paying off a mortgage.
Even so, it felt good to do something in the real world; I’ve done pretty well in school over the last few years, but it is true that my encyclopaedic knowledge of how an oxbow lake forms from Year 10 Geography will count for absolutely bugger all when I have to buy a house for the first time, or figure out how in God’s name an ‘oven’ works. This is furthered by the fact that I’ve done ‘real world’ things very few times in my life: I’ve not got a driver’s license, had a job, been romantically involved with someone, or given serious thought to politics, all things that – turning eighteen in a month – I will have access to pretty soon.
But I’m not in any particular hurry to get there; this may be an overly cynical view, but I’m pretty sure that adult life is basically like being a kid, but you have a lot less money, far less free time, a screw up can cost you your job, and there’s not even the fantasy of being called up for your favourite football team while they’re in an injury crisis like they do in films, because you’re 37 years old and by this point have smoked your own body weight in cigarettes.
I suppose I’m in a weird position then, that I’m only having some responsibility placed on me, and that is mostly out of choice: I’m opening a bank account because I’m choosing to go to University, and need a student loan paid into it – I could just continue living at home and not need an account at all.
And this is a difference from the involuntary responsibility of adult life: I can use the excuse that ‘I suck at maths’ to get out of calculating my own UMS scores, and getting some numerical wizard to do them for me, but when I leave University, I’ll have to figure out how to pay off a mortgage by myself, even if my current mathematical ability consists of half-knowing the first eleven times tables. The only way to prepare for these sorts of responsibilities, however, would be to ask your family or friends to place them upon you, which is just too good an opportunity for them to pass up to screw you over: if I let my mates sign me up for stuff I didn’t want to do, I’d soon be working at a garbage recycling plant in Chingford that has a painfully literal interpretation of the idea of ‘hands-on work’.
This is why backup plans are so important: I might be moving out to go to University in London, but I can always come back home to my parents if I fail to find a house in my second year, or when I inevitably run out of both money for toiletries and wallpaper for meals. Of course, this safety net won’t always be there – my parents might want to move out of London at some point – so maybe the only way to use this security is in the short-term, while I still only have a few responsibilities.
And until I get kicked out of a bank for being life-threateningly in debt, I’ll always remember the fact that being an adult was cool for about half an hour.