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I Am 18 And I Know It !

By Abhishek Namballa

Yeah, I am 18 years old and I am very well aware of it. I am aware that I just added to the count of the world’s largest vote bank of a democratic country. I am aware that I have just become one more licensed menace on the road. I am aware that I am now officially an adult.

For the opportunistic politicians, I am just another gullible and impressionable voter. For the insatiable society, I am a new crop, a new wave, a new hope and a man ready to be handed over the reins of the society. For my adorable parents I am still the same, as if I was just born the other day – still necessary to be protected, to be safeguarded against all odds and a glimmering hope to be responsible to them in the future. For my fellow friends who are already 18 or about to be 18, I am the one with whom they can share feelings, their ambitions, and their secrets (and there can be many or little depending on the sex).

Many would say that they have grown up leaving their formative years behind them. They would say they are mature enough to understand the world and the vices that afflict it. True. But only to an extent. Alden Nowlan once said –

"The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes adolescent;
the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult;
the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise."

Why does a child want to grow up? Because they experience their lives are constrained by immaturity and perceive adulthood as one with greater freedom and greater opportunity. I remember that our class teacher often used to tell us – “You are adults now, so behave like one!!” and I used to say to myself – “No, I am not 18, I am still a child, I am not an adult”. I guess that is what I still am – a child at heart. I may have become mature, I may have grown physically, I may be careful about what I speak and with whom I speak and I may be able to differentiate clearly what is good and what is not – but I am still a juvenile at heart! I presume most of us are.

Though many might pretend that they are now quite sophisticated and prepared to carry the weights of responsibility on their shoulders, they are yet to reconcile with the new recognition that they have been accorded. During one of our many light – hearted chats in college, one of my friends was saying to another whose 18th birthday was round the corner – “You are going to be 18, you should be so happy, I was so very thrilled!!” Then I ask – “Why, what was so thrilling about it, and how is it any different from the 5th or the 15th?” And the reply – “You know… well nothing as such, you should celebrate every birthday” and it was followed by a little good humored chuckle. I guess any birthday is just a 365 day round trip around the sun!

Some people might quip in and say that there is a bifurcation among 18 year olds – some go on to become successful (of course there are many definitions of the word!), while others are lead astray into doing things that they would not have preferred otherwise. They are unfortunately deemed a burden to the society. Well nothing changes overnight. A man becomes what he is groomed to be by the conditions around him.

18 year olds are often faced with a dilemma – to rebel and conform at the same time. They are aware of the facts around them. Telling facts to an 18 year old is like bathing a fish in water. They want to create their own world, the world that they see fit, the world in which they rule! This brings them at cross roads with those already in power. Some conform and give in, others rebel. That is the greatest asset they posses - the power to challenge authority, the power to change things, and the power to bring about a revolution.

Yes, I am aware of all of this – well I have written it myself and in the process I have explored myself a bit. But in the end what transpires out of this is – “I am 18 years old, but Dil to abhi baccha hai ji."

About the writer : An undergraduate who, when not busy devouring the courses at hand loves to write, play keyboard, badminton and cricket and hobble around the internet hoping to stumble upon something that would prevent his brain cells from dying out..


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