It’s My Birthday (the 17th One) by Jaimee Martin

VISION BOARDS — CANDICE DENNISYesterday I was 16, today, at 10:21 A.M., I am 17.

That’s right, it’s time for Dancing Queen and road trips to Virginia Beach, real college preparation, and learning how to spend money like an adult.

You see, 17 is truly the best age, there’s no contestor; There is no time in teenage years that captures the intersection of the opposite kinds of freedom offered by childhood versus adulthood better than 17. You have all the privileges of the 18 and older people, but none of the responsibility, and you have all the privileges of 4-year-olds, but the capability to actually do something with it. I can go out when I want, be with who I want, and yet not have to pay any bills or think about retirement. I can say I’m mature and ready for the world, but I can still act wildly irresponsible and play the “I’m just a kid” card – it’s beautiful.

17 is the year for living, a timed but endless, bucket list year in of itself because of its unmatched ‘sweet spot’ qualities, and I plan to live it as much as living will allow for. I want to be reckless while keeping my heart on the future, I want to make memories that will last me for the rest of my time into that future. Most of all, I want to just be, because that’s the ultimate part of living; I want to be here, be with people who I keep the closest, be in my own skin. (So thank you to 17 for giving me the time to experience it)

Yes, 17 does have its moments for the depressed teens too; We’re beginning the journey from packing bags to moving out, to maybe even living in a different country. It’s scary and sad, really sad, because as exciting as the ‘new chapter’ is, we’re all ultimately leaving the life we’ve known and people we’ve loved. The beauty of 17, though, is that the ‘living’ part outweighs it, and you can let the depression mix in organically in a way that makes time still feel safe.

All of this reminds me, for Christmas, my 5-year-old nephew, Henry, got me a trophy. It was made of wonderfully, intricately crafted plastic comprising a lovely, matriarchal woman with her arms spread to the heavens upon a blue base engraved with the words “Congrats on Adulting”. Least to say, it’s the best present I’ve ever received, and yes adulting is coming, a journey of its own I’m more excited than ever to eventually go on. But for now, I’m on the journey of 17 – the journey for living – and for now, to time, I give my gratitude more than ever.

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