Turning 18 provides false reality, requires change


Alex Sharp, co-features editor

To our nation’s lawmakers,

I would first like to thank you for creating a constitution that defines 18 as the beginning of adulthood. Recently, I celebrated that milestone myself. With your definition in mind, I am eager to begin making my mark on the world as an independent individual. I know, I know. Being an adult has a lot of responsibilities that go with it. That’s why I want to thank you for not only enforcing the Constitution’s definition but also for trusting me with the rights and freedoms associated with adulthood.

Wait, did I say trust? Sorry, let me rephrase that. Limited trust.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am extremely thankful for any trust given to me, but I feel that in a situation like this, it’s either complete faith or utter uncertainty. If you wish to define me and other 18-year-olds as adults, then we deserve to be treated like adults in all of our freedoms rather than in bits and pieces.  

Let me explain. It seems our nation’s rights are given different weights: some are “just small enough” for us 18-year-olds to handle whereas others are too great of a responsibility. This is contrary to the fact that being 18 constitutionally makes us an adult across the board.

Here’s a few examples of some of the rights you believe are “just small enough” for 18-year-olds. For one, I can shape democracy. Sounds like an impossibly large task for one 18-year-old, but my single vote can play a role in determining who the next president of our country is. And not only can I shape democracy, but I can further it too. I wonder what my first jury duty case will be: theft, divorce, fraud, murder.

Another example: marriage. No big deal. I just have the freedom to fall in love with whomever I meet and the right to consecrate that love in eternal marriage. Being 18, I have the independence to start my own family. So thank you, policy-makers, for entrusting me with that small right.

Oh, and one more! Sacrifice. Although as a woman this law does not apply to me personally, my male friends turning 18 will have to register for selective service. It shows great honor to know that in your eyes, they are mature enough to defend and even die for our country.  

And the list of 18-year-old “small enough” rights goes on. That list though doesn’t include alcohol, which is why I’m a little confused. Do you really think that one sip of wine is a more significant responsibility than voting, marriage and service, limiting it to people at least three years older than myself?

Lawmakers, let me explain something to you. If you want my fellow 18-year-olds and I to act like adults, then you need to treat us like adults. That begins with trusting us to make our own decisions. And surprise!Restricting what we drink does not demonstrate that respect.

When our family, friends and government do not trust us, we become too afraid to ask for help for fear of condescending judgement. However, we are about to go off to college, travel the world or begin our careers. We need to know that our role models believe we can do it without needing to run back home and hold our parents’ hands. Although we may, and probably will, make mistakes, that’s the only way we will learn and grow. Grant us the right to try.

Now I understand that you alone do not have ability to rewrite the United States’ Constitution, but you do have the ability to spur the campaign needed to instill trust in us. When you define 18-year-olds as having achieved the rite of passage to adulthood, say it with sincerity. Don’t treat us like adults when it’s convenient. Treat us like adults because we are adults.



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