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When you turn 18, you become an adult in many ways. In the U.S., you can vote, enlist in the armed forces, marry without parental consent, and be held accountable for your own actions in a court of law. At the same time, however, you're still a teenager and, very likely, still relying on your parents for both moral and financial support. And in the U.S., unlike many countries, you're still too young to drink alcohol legally.
Some famous thinkers, writers, actors, and comedians have had a lot to say about turning 18. Some think it's the perfect time of life; others have a very different point of view! The famous comedian Erma Bombeck felt it was an ideal time for parent liberation: "I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: Checkout Time is 18 years."
What Happens When You Turn 18
While no one instantly becomes responsible or wealthy at age 18, you are suddenly handed the tools to make financial and personal decisions. At the same time, parents lose the right to make decisions on your behalf unless you hand those rights over. For example:
- Parents can no longer make health decisions for you unless you sign a document assigning them those rights.
- Parents can't stop you from or force you to make legal decisions or agreements. That means you can just go off and get married, lease an apartment, or join the military on your own.
- You can sign waivers for doing dangerous activities such as skydiving or bungee jumping without your parents' approval.
- You can run for many political offices.
- You can legally drink alcohol in many countries including Canada and France.
At the same time that you gain all those freedoms, though, you also lack the experience and knowledge you might need to make the right decisions. Is it really a good idea to move out of your parents' home before you have a job, for example? Many people do leave home at age 18; some handle the change well, but others have a hard time managing on their own.
18 Is the Perfect Age
Some famous people see (or saw) age 18 as the perfect age. You're old enough to do what you want to do and young enough to enjoy it! You're also at a good age for having dreams for your future. Here are a few great quotes about the freedom and idealism connected with age 18.
John Entwistle: "I mean, eighteen years old is the age of consent in Europe and you can go anywhere and do anything you like. In America, it is dumb. At eighteen you should be able to do anything that you like, except get married."
Selena Gomez: "… at the end of the day, I'm eighteen, and I'm going to fall in love."
Mark Twain: "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
Bryan Adams, from the song "18 Till I Die": "Someday I'll be 18 goin' on 55! / 18 til I die."
18 Is the Age of Confusion
Writers and musicians look back at their 18th year and remember feeling confused and unsure about who they were and how they should move forward. Some, like Albert Einstein, saw 18 as the year when people believe they're adults even though they aren't.
Alice Cooper, from the song "I'm 18": "I got a baby's brain and an old man's heart/Took eighteen years to get this far/Don't always know what I'm talkin' about/Feels like I'm livin' in the middle of doubt/'Cause I'm/Eighteen/I get confused every day/Eighteen/I just don't know what to say/Eighteen/I gotta get away."
Albert Einstein: "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
Jim Bishop: "Nobody understands anyone 18, including those who are 18."
18 Is the Age of Dreamers
When you're 18, you feel empowered, and you know your whole life is yet to be lived. Later, you may have a different opinion!
Gracie May: "When I turned 18, the whole world was ahead of me. When I turned 19, it felt like my whole world was behind me."
F. Scott Fitzgerald: "At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide."
Liv Tyler: "I cried on my 18th birthday. I thought 17 was such a nice age. You're young enough to get away with things, but you're old enough, too."
Eric Clapton, from the song "Early in the Morning": "When a girl reaches the age of 18/She begins to think she's grown/And that's the kind of little girl/You can never find at home."