If there's anything guaranteed to make you feel old, it's a call from an enthusiastic senior at your old high school, asking about university. Yes, it's that time of the year again - application season. Although it seems like a distant and internal angst-filled memory from years gone by, it actually only happened three years ago.
Whilst tidying up the innumerable files on my perpetually memory-deficient laptop, I came across one of the personal statements I wrote as a joke. It was my first attempt at answering one of the six scary Common App prompts, I decided to get the nerves out of the way by writing something less-than-serious. I never submitted it, but I thought it would be nice to publish here and think about the good ol' days.
Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.
When I asked my friends this question, I received a mixture of responses. I was told, ‘the day I got my licence,’ ‘when my father bought me a beer,’ ‘my bar mitzvah,’ and so on. Those who know me well knew better than to ask why I was enquiring.
Rule Number 1: Don’t ask.
Rule Number 4: Never question a writer. *
So what would my response be?
I don’t have my licence. I once took driving lessons during a holiday, but since I had limited time, I had to have a lesson every day for two hours. Couple that with the instructors slowly dying, light blue chug-a-bug and his Nanny McPhee-esque appearance, and you have one very traumatised teenager. Suffice to say, I am not in a hurry to get behind the wheel again.
My father would never buy me a beer. Firstly, I’ve never even seen him drink one - wine is his drink of choice. Secondly, I’m sure he’d sooner take me shopping for sanitary pads and underwear than see me have alcohol before I’m 30. **
Nor am I Jewish. Well, I suppose in the broader sense, Christianity was born out of Judaism, and my family does keep the Sabbath. Also, my grandfather fancies himself part Jewish (he’s not) and wants his whole church to learn Hebrew and starting celebrating Jewish holidays (they won’t). I may not be Jewish, but I have had my rite of passage.
When I was fifteen, I had my Bat Barakah. As I explained to my friends, it is essentially a ‘Christian Bat Mitzvah.’ It was held in my garden on a Sunday afternoon. My closest friends were there, as well as my fellow church members and a few people I barely knew who were utterly perplexed by the whole affair and thus brought me presents reading ‘Happy 18th Birthday!’
The pastor and my parents prayed over me, I cut a white ribbon, walked through a rose-covered arch and received my purity ring. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have made such a big decision at fifteen. I had spent primary school in an all-girls school, so at fiften I believed that boys were full of nonsense and only in it for the pretzels. Thanks to the Internet, I have since learnt that boys are full of nonsense and only in it for the sandwiches. My mistake.
My tirade aside, the moment I became an adult was not during my rite of passage or on my eighteenth birthday. It was when I entered boarding school. I was bombarded with challenges. I had to live on a students’ budget, do my own laundry, attend to legal documents and make appointments. The once foreign concept of a checklist was now my daily bread. Suddenly Nutella wasn’t as vital to my survival and my clothes were still ‘clean enough’ the second time around. The bubble of living at home had acted as a bulwark against the realities and responsibilities of ‘life as an adult.’
Obviously, I can’t fix a geyser or run a household by myself. I haven’t the slightest clue how to deal with taxes, and my knowledge of changing tires comes from common sense and television. I don’t believe I’m an adult yet, as it’s not a sudden change where one expects to wake up and find ‘adult’ written on one’s wrist. It’s gradual.
I can now paint a bedroom, fly overseas alone, cook a meal, clean a house and even make my own money. I’m far more independent, but I still need my mum and dad to look after me. The world outside my bedroom is far too overwhelming otherwise.
*My friend's Six Rules For Life:
1: Don’t ask
2: Don’t tell
3: Deny all allegations
4. Never question a writer
5. Never reveal everything you know
No one say anything about 'bulwark,' I clearly had just swallowed a list SAT key words and was punching way above my weight. Three years later and I had to look up what on earth 'bulwark' means. I'm not nearly as clever as I thought I was at 18.
Pepper & Söl