Disney as an Adult

1. Etsy Ears

  If you don’t know already, Etsy is a wonderful website to buy Disney themed merch at. Not only do they have shirts and jewelry, but there are countless shops solely dedicated to handcrafting and selling Disney ears. You can find pairs in almost any color or theme. Many shops will even do custom orders. My most recent purchase was a pair of skull ears that glow in the dark. 

2. Wait Times and Planning 

   This probably doesn’t speak well of me, but I swear I’ve grown more impatient as the years go on. So when it comes to Disney, the wait times can be excruciatingly long. However, I also now have apps like the My Disney Experience and Headsup to help me make the most of my time and provide some entertainment in line. One of the best parts of being an adult at Disney is being able to completely plan and customize your trip to your every whim. Planning out fast passes in advance help you to make the most of your time and avoid as many long lines as possible. 

3. Dining and Drinking Around the World

  Something I’ve learned to greatly appreciate in my recent ventures to Disney is the food. Sure as a kid I loved to get a snack here and there, but never fully appreciated the full experience  Not only do the parks have mouth watering must-haves such as pretzels and dole whip but countless sit-down restaurants available if your budget allows for it. Epcot and Disney Springs are the places to go if you’re looking to have the Disney eating experience. Being 21 and Disney is a great combo. Epcot has an endless array of alcoholic beverages that are both tasty and strong. 

4. Money

One of the biggest things I’ve come to realize as an adult is how expensive going to Disney is. Everything from the food to the park tickets themselves is pretty high in cost. Even with Disney Blogs giving us all the top notch ways to save money, there’s no doubt that a Dinsey vacation is going to cost you a pretty penny. I’m definitely way more appreciative of my trips looking back.

 

5. Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours at night are some of my best hours spent at Disney. Simply put, fewer kids and shorter lines.

 

6. Changes to the Park

One of the things about being able to return to the Disney park as an adult that is equally as exciting as it is heartbreaking are the changes they make to the parks. Your reaction undoubtedly depends on your taste as a Disney fan. New park additions can mean more rides and experiences for park goers, but can also mean older and more classic attractions get torn down. I’m still pretty bitter about Tower of Terror.

7. Memories

Since I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Disney more than once growing up, I have some pretty fond memories (mainly of Disneyland) that make going back even more special now. Returning to places and reliving experiences that made me so happy as kid help to make it just as special as an adult. I often find myself tearing up during the firework show (I know, make fun of me all you want.) Disney sure knows how to capitalize on nostalgia.  

8. Disney is romantic

There’s nothing better than spending a day at Disney with your S.O. The food, the mutual love of pin-trading (I got lucky with that one) and the firework shows at night all make for a great date.  There’s a reason I’ll be spending my five year anniversary at Magic Kingdom this year!

My most recent trip to Disney (Spring 2017) rockin’ some classic Minnie ears.

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The Life of a Homeschooler

  Okay, I’ll admit it, I was homeschooled.

I know what you’re thinking, but I was not homeschooled in the antisocial-god fearing-I only wear sandals-sort of way. In fact, it came as a surprise to many people when I decided to be homeschooled at the age of ten. I was raised by a single mom who worked as a school teacher. My mom, bless her heart, has always put 110 percent into everything that she does. It didn’t come as a surprise when she was a favorite among students at Kyrene del Milenio Elementary school. However, growing up as an only child, and attending the school where my mom taught was not a great experience from my young perspective. For me, it meant waking up at 5 am and getting to school before the sun came up. It meant eating cheese danishes from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge for breakfast. It meant sharpening pencils for my mom’s classroom every morning. It meant re-watching every VHS from the school library (I might scream if someone ever makes me watch the animated Hobbit movie again). However, in most people’s eyes, I was the shy girl who read all the time and had an amazing teacher as a mom.

So, in third grade, when I started dreading school and straight up refused to go, it came as a surprise to many people. My mom hadn’t been teaching for a couple of years, a result of traumatic brain injury. I was struggling socially and academically throughout third and fourth grade. I didn’t get bad grades, but I had a hard time sitting at a desk all day. I excelled in reading but was average at math and was skimmed over in a class of 35 kids. I was not only bored but I was a weird kid. I was obsessed with horror from a young age, loved to read at lunch and had crushes on girls and boys (I didn’t connect this idea until I was 14). None of these things helped me to make friends and I remember being mortified when I realized that many people in my grade would talk about me behind my back. Secret conversations and laughter ending abruptly with eyes averted whenever I walked past. Even my “best friend” in third grade told me she had to be my secret friend at school even though we had sleepovers every weekend. All of these things resulted in tears before school and refusal to go. Eventually, my mom sat me down and had me make a list of everything I wanted in a school.

      Addy’s Dream School

  • More reading time
  • Pets at school
  • Help with math
  • More field trips
  • Wearing PJs whenever I want

After making the list, homeschooling was an obvious option. My mom and I only knew one other family that homeschooled, so it was a mostly unknown option to us. Still, we started this strange and exciting endeavor at the beginning of my 5th-grade year.  My mom used her teaching background and resources to create general lesson plans and we eventually found local homeschool groups to join. I continued with homeschooling all the way through high school. I took community college classes from age twelve, graduated with double the credit needed for high school graduation, performed Shakespeare, volunteered with multiple organizations and traveled extensively with my mother.

Despite all the weird looks when I told people I was homeschooled, the probing questions about my social life and college plans, I’m not going to be ashamed of being a homeschooler anymore. It has brought me academic challenges and travel opportunities that I would have never had otherwise, but more importantly, it introduced me to a group of friends that taught me self-confidence and accepted all of my weird quirks. I was immersed by people who wore whatever they wanted, studied everything from music theory to Latin and valued treating each other with respect. This has shaped me in numerous ways, but most obviously brought me to Emerson College where I continue to be surrounded by creative, weird and passionate people.

Looking Back on Childhood Friends and Memories

There are hundreds of relationships that one will have during their lifetime. There is the childhood friend, the high school group, the best friend, the boyfriend and the family friends. Of course, there are plenty more, and each will have different and unique experiences and memories. There will be a ton of laughter, smiles, and secrets, but also tears, fights, and second guessing. It happens with everyone, slowly, but surely, and at different times of everyone’s life. Within each relationship that you had, have and will have, there are lessons that you learn. The lessons, in turn, will be established in future friendships that you will make.

When I was little, like many, I had a childhood best friend. We did so much together, which was less of our choosing and more because our moms were close friends. Either way, we wanted to have “play dates” and play imaginary games. Personally, I believe that having a childhood best friend is important. It could be a person, imaginary friend, or a loved pet. With any of these types, we learn to play, love, interact and learn from others. I can confidently say that my childhood best friend began to teach me all of these characteristics and everyday human capabilities that would later turn into major building blocks for other friendships.

There is always a specific memory that you can tag to a person. With this friend (you know who you are), we used to play on the wooden swing in her backyard. It was the type of the swing that had a plank of wood connected to rope, you know, the ones that swung really high with just one push. We used to take turns playing on that swing for hours, screaming and smiling all at once as we quickly got higher and higher off of the ground and closer to the shining sun. This was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid, plainly because it was just so simple but so fun.

Unfortunately for me, I have always been scared of heights and also that feeling of dropping backwards without having control of it. Therefore, I would always have fun going up, but as soon as it hit the highest part of the swing and began to go back to the ground, I would panic. I thought that I was going to run into the wooden fence that shut my friend’s yard off from weeds and sharp bushes that lived in her neighbor’s. I would shut my eyes tight, and turtle my chin into my neck, ready for impact. But it would never happen. She would always catch the swing before it would hit the fence. I would open my eyes and find myself still intact.

As silly as this sounds, these simple playtimes at the swing helped me to begin building trust for people besides my family. The fact that I never crashed into the fence because of the true dedication of my friend (think about it, two small and young girls can’t stop a fast moving swing with someone equally as heavy on top of it that easily) helped me to open up to other people rather than hide from them.

Now, with an experience that brought me so much trust to instill in my everyday surroundings and the people within them, came others that brought me back down to earth. We all have experienced friends who talked about us behind our backs, lied to us, or smirked meanly at us when we made stupid comments. Maybe you didn’t know it, but someone did. Middle school and high school, for most of us, are the grounds for bringing down our trust levels. Especially for girls. We really are mean. I mean, guys are also pretty bad. Though, in middle school, they tend to separate themselves into two categories: loud and obnoxious or quiet and shy. Girls on the other hand, well, quiet or not, we are just plain mean. If not all of the time, then a pretty good amount of it. And half the time we don’t even intend to be.

For me, I was more quiet in middle school and stuck to a smaller group of friends. But was I a perfect friend who never talked about anyone behind their backs? Absolutely not. It’s in our nature, and at a time when everything both physically and mentally is changing for us, it helps something to feel normal. This by no means excuses bullying, however emphasizes that sad fact that we as girls do eventually thrive off of some sort of drama in order to distract ourselves from our own ongoing lives.

As I thread through thousands of unfinished journal pages covered with sloppy handwriting and unidentifiable drawings, I remember those times in my life while growing into that “awkward middle school phase.” I remember times that I was mean (like when I threw a dinner roll at my aunt to stop her from telling an embarrassing story) and then times that people were mean to me. (Remember FormSpring?) If I could relive those moments now, as a 20-year-old woman rather than a ten to 13-year-old girl, I would probably change a couple of things. One, I wouldn’t throw the dinner roll, I would most likely let my aunt continue her embarrassing story and secretly plan a less harmful revenge. Two, I would probably delete my FormSpring account and never look back at it again.

Both of these instances described above, (one being cute and nostalgic, and the other more of a laughing stock), are completely different. However, both of the relationships had in them helped me to become the person I am today. As you can tell through this article, I am a big believer of “everything happens for a reason.” But thinking back onto every relationship you have ever had (which is a lot), there is some sort of happy, sad or angry ending to it that makes you more wary or trusting about others around you. If all of the relationships that we had in our lives were happy and had positive outcomes, no fights or crying, then we would never expect anything bad of anyone. We would be naive and a serious target for anything and everything horrible and evil.

Even through intimate relationships we learn. If I acted shy and uncomfortable around my current boyfriend like I did with my first boyfriend, then our relationship would not be going very far (and would possibly already be over.) If someone had never made fun of me, then I never would have built a thicker skin (and a wildly large determination to do everything to prove them wrong.) And even as I am presented with similar relationships that I dealt with in the past, I realize that it is another chance to deal with them in a better and more responsible way than how I did before.

As awkward as our memories of the past may be, they can not be rewritten. And honestly, why would you ever want to?

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship Between Siblings

Does anyone remember that 2003 movie, Cheaper by the Dozen?  It’s the one starring Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt and a teenage Hilary Duff. In the movie, Steve and Bonnie have 12 kids and they move from the country to suburbia for Steve’s dream job. The entire family has trouble with relocating and the film ends with a huge reunion after one of the children, Mark, runs away.

As my brother picked me up from work the other day, I was reminded of Cheaper by the Dozen. Not because I have 11 siblings—I can’t even imagine what that would be like—but because of the relationships the siblings maintained with each other. There were rivalries, alliances, fights and making up. Underneath it all, there was loyalty and love.

I’ve realized that siblings have a unique relationship. Sometimes the relationship can be extremely close. Other times it can be distant or volatile. Almost always, though, the relationship changes over time and with maturity. Before I entered kindergarten, my brother and I were very close. My mom tells me that when I started going to school, my brother Joey, would constantly ask, “Where’s Ally? When’s Ally coming home?”

If I was writing this article five years ago I would have laughed. That friendship my brother and I shared disappeared in late elementary school/early middle school. Maybe this is because at that age we’d been developing our own ideas and figuring out our identities. Younger children wouldn’t have yet experienced the divide caused by “eww boys/girls have cooties.” Also, at that time, we’d recently moved. We’d previously lived in a housing complex where we’d had mutual friends with similar interests. As we discovered what new activities we enjoyed we began to drift apart.

Then add in teenage hormones, the belief that we were invincible, independent, and infinitely knowledgeable and there was no way my brother and I would ever get along. We became two entirely different people. Joey was, and still is, charismatic, athletic and social. I was, and still am, introverted, quiet and studious.

During middle school and high school, our rivalry grew out of control. Every day as we got off the bus, Joey would rush to the back door before I did. He would then slam the door shut and lock it, prohibiting me from getting inside. He’d laugh; I’d yell. Our relationship was not a happy one.

Now that I’m older, I think that a reason we didn’t get along is because our personalities were so different. We saw in each other qualities we wanted to possess ourselves. He wanted to perform better in school while I wanted to meet new people with ease. I think that this situation can be attributed to almost any sibling relationship. Each person has a distinct personality and due to insecurities, hormones and any other pressure, whether it’s coming from friends or family, relationships become strained. It’s almost like a battle of who has the dominant personality.

This is not to say all siblings will act like opponents circling one another in a boxing ring. I have two friends who are twin sisters. They’ve always been close and even though they’ve had their differences, they’re still close today. They have a mutual friend group and similar hobbies.

As my brother and I are nearing adulthood, we’ve re-forged our friendship. Nowadays, we’ll have long conversations about our weekend plans, our parents and what we want in our futures. With maturity, we’ve grown comfortable with who we are, our interests and our individual idiosyncrasies. We’ve acknowledged our differences and know that we want to get along so that we can always be in each other’s life. For anyone, maturity changes you. You’re more knowledgeable and not as naïve. You also begin to realize what is important and what you want as a priority in your life.

Obviously, not all sibling relationships are like the one I have with my brother. Joey and I are only a year apart and so we both had to face similar challenges around the same time. Many siblings have a larger age gap. Some have step-siblings or half-siblings they may not see often due to a multitude of reasons.

While every family is different, siblings may still face similar challenges. Personalities may compete, differences in opinions on a subject may cause a heated debate. There are a number of reasons why siblings may not get along. With maturity and time, however, the relationship between siblings will change. Whether this is to bring siblings closer together or have them drift farther apart is individual. In my case, I’m pleased that my brother and I get along. He’s another person in my life I know I can count on and he knows I’ll be there for him as well.

Candy For All

When I was a kid, fall was my absolute favorite. Of course I loved Christmas in the winter, my birthday in the spring and the never ending playfulness of summer, but something about fall air always energized my young mind. Some of my most heartwarming childhood memories are from brisk Halloweens where I would play in the leaves until I exhausted myself, only to get all dressed up like Snow White to solicit chocolate from my sweet elderly neighbors.

When you’re a kid, Halloween is a time of endless possibilities. Costume choices were abundant, the word “diet” was something you didn’t even really know the meaning of and the scariest possibility of the night was that a neighbor might jump out at you from behind the bushes.

Unfortunately, as we get older we become all too aware that many costume choices are uncomfortable or inappropriate; guilt may now come with eating that extra Kit Kat and the frightening monsters of our childhood have nothing in comparison to the horrific actions of actual human beings. With all that being said, there is still hope for Halloween to be the wonderful holiday it was meant to be.

How can you recapture these warm and wacky feelings? You simply refuse to admit you are an adult, at least for a day.

Go trick or treating.

You may be an adult but that just means that your parents aren’t around to tell you that you’re eating too much sugar.

Wear the costume you want.

Do you and your best friend want to go as Dalmatians and make cute puppy jokes all night? Do it! Your 5-year-old self would laugh and laugh and think it was the most wonderful thing in the world.

Decorate your house or apartment.

There’s nothing wrong with a few fake cobwebs in the corner. (They would just hide the fact that you haven’t cleaned in weeks and have real ones.)

Have pumpkins around.

Make your living situation just a little more spooky.

You might seem corny or immature celebrating Halloween this way to some people but you can sleep better at night knowing that you’re having more fun than them. You’re probably also having more Reese’s cups than them and that helps too.

I am a Poseur

I’m a huge poseur. I have been all my life. And while I’d been mimicking other kid’s skooter tricks for years, the art of posing truly began to manifest in my sophomore year of high school. That’s when I decided enough is enough; I was going to look exactly like Rae Jefferson. Rae was a girl in one of my classes who I’d been idolizing for over a year. She was effortlessly cool, confident, and dazzling. I wanted to be just like her even though we had nothing in common. I decided the best way to do this was to start with her clothes which I mimicked horribly for the next three years.

That’s where it began: my horrible imitations of Rae’s outfits. With that, the act of copying those I admired became a way of life.

In fashion, I looked to more people I admired and started dressing like them too. I admired Rachel Berry’s talent so I bought bobby socks. I listened to a lot of Lana Del Rey so I made and wore flower crowns.

Later, when I decided to become serious about writing, my poseur life dramatically shifted in a new (and not so surprising) way. At this point, I had written a few stories but, like every young writer, lacked an individual voice. As a result, I decided to copy exactly how other writers wrote. I read Les Miserables and forced myself to write like Victor Hugo, I read Mrs. Dalloway and did the same with Virginia Woolf. My point of view switched as I changed from J.K. Rowling to Sylvia Plath to Stephen King. Each author suffered my embarrassing wannabe stories in their style. When I go back into my journals and read my old short stories I can distinctly identify who I was reading at the time.

Of course, this whole confession of my posing is embarrassing. Looking through the archive of my Facebook I usually shutter. But while I was trying my hand at floral button downs and abstract prose I wasn’t just looking and writing poorly, I was figuring shit out.

The thing is, writing and fashion have become the two main ways in which I express myself. Being 14 and not knowing anything about myself, it was imperative that figured out who I was by copying. And now, since I have gone through all the posing, I feel I have a better grasp of what I like and who I am. I am able to more easily craft what I have to say and present myself to the world according to what I’m feeling. All this with the help of being a poseur (*crowd cheers*)

Of course, a lot of people say that this time for experimenting is contained to high school but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Since people are constantly growing I think it’s safe to say posing is something that happens your entire life. With that being said, I think, in particular, Emerson is a place where it’s impossible not to be a poseur.

That sounds like an insult but it’s not. Emerson, as campy as this sounds, is a place for artists who are trying to find their individual voice. It’s a place where people with great taste are able to pluck what they like from those they admire and string it together to make it theirs. Are yes, they are poseurs until they do make it theirs. They are poseurs when they are inspired by a filmmaker, when they have heroes and when they create through that lens. And, you know what? It’s wonderful.

In many ways being a poseur seems like the most human thing in the world. It’s how people adapt to who they really are; like Eat, Pray, Love mixed with Darwinism.

I think Lourdes “Lola” Leon, Madonna’s daughter, sums up the embarrassing yet beneficial life of posing in her recent blog post. As an aspiring fashion designer Lola experimented a lot of clothing which eventually brought her closer to the style she likes. She writes:

“Oh how I wish I could go back in time and urge my 14-year-old self not to wear black rhinestone-studded t-shirts with bloody skulls on them, purchased from really “hip” stores (wtf is hip anyways). I like to reassure myself though, that I had to go through that awkward time of ‘trying stuff out’ to figure out what I liked wearing best.”

Shut Up and Drive

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In my head, the process towards adulthood is basically a big checklist. There are certain milestones that you have to hit and only after you check them off your little list can you officially become a “capital-A” adult.

Did you have braces? Check. Have you had your heart broken? Check. Have you worked a crappy retail job? Check. Congratulations, kid. Here’s your card. Don’t lose it.

I know that this isn’t how it really works. But it’s always felt that way, like life is a video game and there are certain achievements you have to unlock before you can level up. If you miss a step, you have to go back and re-do it or else you won’t be able to go any further in the game.

One of the steps that I missed was getting my driver’s license. I know that not everybody can drive (or even needs to) but when you grow up in the suburbs, taking your driver’s test is a rite of passage. I started driver’s ed when I was 16, like most people do, but for a variety of reasons I never finished it. Luckily, not being able to drive wasn’t a huge problem in high school and I had always planned on going to college in the big city, where I wouldn’t need a car anyway. Plus, I figured that plenty of people get through life without having a driver’s license. What was the rush?

Now that I’m 20-years-old, though, it’s getting to be a hassle to have to call home for rides whenever I go anywhere in the summer. Having a license would also make my life easier and open up more opportunities. As much as I hate to admit it, the T doesn’t go everywhere. Thus, I decided that driving school would be one of my big projects for the summer and I started taking classes the weekend after the semester ended.

In Massachusetts, the driver’s ed curriculum involves sitting in a classroom for 30 hours, watching someone else drive a car for six hours and then driving with an instructor for 12. These requirements are only mandatory for the under-18 crowd, who have to do it to get their licenses early. But completing the whole program gets you a pretty significant discount on your insurance and the package deal worked out to be cheaper than booking lessons individually so off to the classroom I went.

There were 14 people in my class and only one person besides me was over 18. The rest were 16-year-olds, who looked exactly as thrilled to be there as I felt. To make things even more interesting, two days prior to the start of classes, I had crossed another big-ticket item off of my road-to-adulthood checklist: getting my wisdom teeth extracted. Though I wasn’t in a lot of pain, my cheeks were still pretty swollen, so much so that I couldn’t really smile or eat.

But there I was: in a classroom with a bunch of unwilling 16-year-olds on a Saturday, still recovering from a minor surgical procedure. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, I had forgotten by then that the classroom portion of driving school is basically just 30 hours of being told all the different ways you can die behind the wheel of a car. Either that or you spend two hours straight talking about how to park on a hill. There is no middle ground and the mood-whiplash can be startling: “And that, children, is what the different colored street lights mean. Now, let’s look at this picture of a dead guy who was driving drunk without wearing his seat belt.”

The latter is, I think, an attempt to scare the 16-year-olds out of doing stupid things behind the wheel. I’ll admit that this is an important conversation to have and that it’s hard to talk about these things with teenagers (or anyone, really) without coming off holier-than-thou or sounding like the lame babysitter who won’t let them eat candy for dinner or jump on the bed.

The solution to this, apparently, is the scare-them-straight route. The message is not: “You should wear your seat belt, because it will keep you from getting thrown from the car in the event of a collision.” Instead, it becomes: “Here is a picture of Little Sally’s mutilated corpse. Little Sally did not wear her seat belt and that is why her corpse is so mutilated. If you do not wear your seat belt, you will end up like Little Sally.” There is even extra-special footage of real, fatal accident scenes, which is especially fun if, like me, you have a severe, crippling fear of dead bodies.

I always wonder what the purposes of these videos are. Actually, I do understand the emphasis on texting and driving, because texting seems pretty harmless. After all, if you can walk and text, you can drive and text, right? (Plot twist: you can’t do either and I say this as a serial texter-and-walker. You really can’t do both without, at best, acting like a huge asshole.)

But who among us actually needs to be told that driving drunk is a bad idea? Do people think that we won’t believe that driving drunk or high kills people until we see it for ourselves?

Then again, I think about how many people my age smoke cigarettes, despite the massive campaign lobbed at us since our Sesame Street days telling us that even looking at cigarettes the wrong way is going to give you cancer and kill you. I think about the fact that my orthodontist literally sat down and told me, “Now that your braces are off, you have to wear your retainer every day, or else your teeth will be pushed back to the way that they were before.” And I thought, “Yeah, right. I don’t want to wear my retainer,” which why I have crooked teeth now. I think of all the times my friends and I have stayed up late doing a project that we knew about for weeks, because we deliberately chose to put it off until the very last minute.

This FIGHT THE POWER impulse is something that I think we develop as 13 or 14-year-olds. After hearing the word “no” so many times during your adolescence, you just get so frustrated that you say, “Watch me!” and do what you want to anyway, even if it’s a stupid idea. You cut off your nose to spite your face, as the old saying goes. Moreover, I don’t think it’s something you ever really grow out of, either. As college students, we like to pretend that we’re so much older and smarter than our high school selves. Sometimes, we are. But that doesn’t mean that we’re above any of the petty drama or any less prone to procrastinating.

One of the things that kept getting emphasized at driving school was that driving, for the 16-year-olds, was going to be their first real, proper adult responsibility. Obviously, this is not wholly true for me as a 20-year-old, seeing as I’ve crossed getting into college, living away from my parents and safely taking the T home at questionably late hours off my list, among other responsibilities. But having a driver’s license is still a big deal. After all, it does literally give you the power of life and death.

A popular refrain I’ve heard (usually in terms of making big life decisions) is that if you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never be ready. If you wait until you feel mature to start to act mature, then you’ll never actually get there.  That’s why we have to pretend to be adults for so long, or at least, that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few years. You just have to go with it until you start figuring out some of the rules. Getting your driver’s license doesn’t automatically make you more mature than you were the half hour before you took the driving test, but it can definitely help you pretend to be, at least until you eventually figure it out.

One particularly memorable driving school class (it involved many detailed, gruesome accounts of car crashes) ended with the question, “So, are you ready for this?” Obviously we all said “yes” because we wanted to get the class over with. And I do think that I’m ready, in spite of the repeated warnings that there are about a million different ways that I can die driving, half of which don’t even have to be because I did anything wrong. I know that yellow lights don’t mean “slow down,” or “speed up to beat the red light,” but “stop if safe to do so.” I know that the speed limit in a school zone is 20 miles per hour. I know not to flip any other drivers off in case they shoot me in the chest with a crossbow. (The road rage class, ladies and gentlemen!) But I’m not actually going to know whether or not I can drive alone on a highway until I do it on my own.

I don’t know if I’m ready for a lot of the adult responsibilities that I’m going to face in the next couple of years. I don’t know if I’m ready to graduate and get a real job or to move halfway across the country away from my family if a job required me to. But there’s really only one way to find out.

Buckle your seat belts, kids. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.