Today is my sixteenth birthday. I am legally able to drive, in some places to drink under parental guidance or be tattooed. I am allowed so much more freedom, have earned so much more independence, paid so much more respect. And I am the exact same person as I was yesterday.
Though I look older, I have often been considered very young. I am one of the youngest in my grade at school, the youngest at my work, the youngest in my group of friends. I am supposedly too young for certain friends, certain adults, and definitely certain boys. People talk about my age as if it is something that defines every aspect of my personality, and that the date on my birth certificate should determine whether or not I’m good enough. And I am so sick of being called ‘too young’.
The numbers on my ID’s mean nothing but a means of identification. My personality and maturity levels are not shaped by how old I am, rather my upbringing, as is the case for every person I know. Why should today, the marking of my sixteenth year of living, change who I am? I did not wake up this morning with a majestic sense of self-revelation, feeling ready for more things than I did being a measly fifteen. I can not pinpoint the moments during which I have changed and grown into the person I am today. I do not grow inches taller only on my birthday or ask for more mature things every Christmas. Growing both mentally and physically is a process that takes time, a long time, and different times for everyone. A number that marks my age should not verify my worth to some people, just as my ethnicity or gender shouldn’t. Get to know me as a person, and then judge how ‘old’ I am.
Please, don’t look down on people for being ‘too young’. Do not validate people’s actions on their age, do not dismiss their friendship because of their assumed maturity level, do not become condescending because you’re older than them. Because, lets face it, were all just kids.
Please, never forget that little girl or boy you used to be. They’re still there, and they appear ever so often, when you’re pushing your little sister on the swing and decide to join her, when you’re flicking through Netflix and guiltily choose SpongeBob, when you’re screaming along in the car to the songs you listened to with your brother when you were nine. The child you used to be still lies there with you at night, untucked, sleeping peacefully, and in that moment they are the exact same person you are today.