Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

An undergrad's perspective on getting older

Rites of passage play a large part in our society. Specific birthdays, graduating high school, the loss of virginity, a first beer, all are social constructs that signify that a boy is becoming a man. But the idea of being a man, even at 20, is somewhat elusive. I'm not a boy, but I don't consider myself a man by any stretch of the imagination. Men work 9-to-5s and have beer bellies and worry about things like going bald and mortgage payments. I've always thought that guys in college are in a limbo-state between adolescence and adulthood. But I was recently proven wrong.

I had a rite of passage in a supermarket this week.

I was picking up some groceries for my mom while home for fall break. A trip to the grocery store in my hometown consists of a few parts:

1. Avoiding old teachers

2. Avoiding people who I graduated with who haven't left town

3. Leaving as quickly as possible with little to no human interaction.

With a sigh of relief, I had successfully accomplished the first two, and I was standing in the checkout line, poised to leave. I handed the cashier my money and turned to pick up the bags when the bag boy said it.

"Have a nice day, sir."

This wasn't the usual pleasantry that comes secondhand to any Southerner. This was a word weighted with meaning. It meant "you are older than me" (which I am, but not by much). It meant "you are clearly and visibly old enough to warrant a small sign of respect." It was meant as a polite gesture, which is what really killed me. This kid genuinely meant it. I was flooded by a rush of differing emotions. I wanted to gag, to cry, to scream, to tear at my hair and run out of the store. I wanted to prove to him that I wasn't a "sir". I'm hip. Do "sirs" listen to Fetty Wap? Can "sirs" hit the Quan? This one can.

Instead of arguing, I smiled (it probably looked more like a wince), took my change, and shuffled out to the parking lot. I replayed the scene in my head over and over, each time putting a more sinister emphasis on "sir" so that it took on a tone of mocking. Always overly-imaginative, I started rationalizing it in ridiculous ways. "Maybe this is like a Freaky Friday thing and my dad and I switched places." "Maybe that kid just looks 16, but is really 12, so everyone must be a sir to him. Someone should shut this place down. Child labor laws"

In hindsight, I'm not mad about being called "sir". I'm frustrated because for the first time in my life, I was confronted with the idea of my aging. It may have started a lot earlier than I thought it would, but I know I'm still young. I still have my adult years ahead of me (God willing), with a whole world full of people to meet and places to explore. For now, I'll just enjoy this period of time in which I can act like a fool on a Friday night and still be called "sir" the next day.

Time marches on, and all we can do is enjoy the beat.

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To The Parent Who Chose Addiction

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.


When I was younger I resented you, I hated every ounce of you, and I used to question why God would give me a parent like you. Not now. Now I see the beauty and the blessings behind having an addict for a parent. If you're reading this, it isn't meant to hurt you, but rather to thank you.

Thank you for choosing your addiction over me.

Throughout my life, you have always chosen the addiction over my programs, my swim meets or even a simple movie night. You joke about it now or act as if I never questioned if you would wake up the next morning from your pill and alcohol-induced sleep, but I thank you for this. I thank you because I gained a relationship with God. The amount of time I spent praying for you strengthened our relationship in ways I could never explain.

SEE ALSO: They're Not Junkies, You're Just Uneducated

Thank you for giving me a stronger bond with our family.

The amount of hurt and disappointment our family has gone through has brought us closer together. I have a relationship with Nanny and Pop that would never be as strong as it is today if you had been in the picture from day one. That in itself is a blessing.

Thank you for showing me how to love.

From your absence, I have learned how to love unconditionally. I want you to know that even though you weren't here, I love you most of all. No matter the amount of heartbreak, tears, and pain I've felt, you will always be my greatest love.

Thank you for making me strong.

Thank you for leaving and for showing me how to be independent. From you, I have learned that I do not need anyone else to prove to me that I am worthy of being loved. From you, I have learned that life is always hard, but you shouldn't give into the things that make you feel good for a short while, but should search for the real happiness in life.

Most of all, thank you for showing me how to turn my hurt into motivation.

I have learned that the cycle of addiction is not something that will continue into my life. You have hurt me more than anyone, but through that hurt, I have pushed myself to become the best version of myself.

Thank you for choosing the addiction over me because you've made me stronger, wiser, and loving than I ever could've been before.

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