The Perils of Being 19

Oh, 19. It’s the age where half the older people you meet say, “I wish I was 19 again,” and the other half scoff and walk away, brushing off any attempt you’ve made at making a mature comment or suggestion.

First things first, I can drink in all of Canada. (Well, I could drink in Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta since I was 18.) This isn’t really that awesome considering most European countries are more relaxed about their ages, but at least I’m not living in America!

Sucks for you guys.

I mean, just look at our classy booze stores.

But, then again, you guys can buy whiskey at your local Wal-Mart. I do envy that. Occasionally, fancy grocery stores will have those little wine booths on your way out, completely separate from the store, but that’s it. Apparently the government thinks people don’t drink and drive on wine. (That is the main reason we can’t sell it in gas stations and big box stores, right?)

Enough about the alcohol. (I’m 19, cut me some slack!)

It’s just such an awkward age. You can’t call yourself a “20-something,” yet referring to yourself as a “teenager” just seems weird. Teenagers, in my books, usually don’t have massive debt, to start. (Student loans are crazy, although not as crazy as the states. Sorry, guys. We win this one, too.) Teenagers usually don’t live by themselves with roommates…
It just seems like being in college as a “teenager” is the wrong choice of words.

People just assume you’re a student, too. Customers always make that awkward small talk:

“So, you go to school, right?”
“Uh…yeah…I just have the day off class….”

I lie to save face. These are people who are obviously asking that first question because, to them, working retail is the absolute worst fate any young adult could ever succumb to. They must be trying to work their way out of it, right?
I also lie because “Well, I did a year at this university but it wasn’t really at this university and I really did not like the school or the program so now I’m taking a year off to save up money I lost on that first year and figure out where I want to go next” is a lot to spit out.

In the second decade of your life, ages 10-19, it’s pretty straightforward. If you live in a Western country (probably similar to most countries, but I’d rather not assume what I don’t know), it can be expected you’ll finish elementary school, then high school, and then go to some sort of college or university. Aside from dropping out of high school, or choosing the wrong major the first year and screwing everything up *cough*, it’s hard to veer off course. That’s really all you have to do to be successful at that age.

Between the ages of 20 and 29, however, you can really fuck it all up or make it work. You can drop out of school and work at Pizza Pizza forever. You can get married and have kids. You can get hired at a giant company and start climbing the corporate ladder. You can move out and buy a house or you can still live with your parents.
There’s just so much uncertainty, and what seems like so many ways to fail, in the next decade.

I’m sure I’ll come to terms with it.

Every year, when I turn a new age, I think “Holy shit on my next birthday I’ll be 17/18/19/20. Shit, that’s old. My god.”
But, by the time my next birthday rolls around, I’m ready to move on. It’s weird how that works.

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2 responses to “The Perils of Being 19

  1. I was just talking about this today. 18 is the latest you should really be finishing school, but it’s far too young to actually know what you want to do for a career. By the time you’ve finished Uni, you’ve probably realised you chose the wrong path entirely.
    I wish I’d become a sign language interpreter, but it never occurred to me at the time, so I’m a product designer instead.

    • I agree completely. Especially, in our school system, you have the make the choice to even take sciences in your upper years. So at the age of 15, when you choose your courses for grade 11, you’re basically deciding if you want to cut any science-y university programs out of your options forever.

      I’m lucky, (I think), I realized nursing wasn’t for me the first year.
      And hey, I’m sure there’s still sign language courses you could take in your spare time?