The Anti-Experiencer. Labelled.
“I drove on my own to his house the other day.”
“After homecoming, we went back to his place.”
“I have to get to work, catch you in a few.”
“Just got accepted to Kennesaw, verbally committed.”
“I named the car Ned, pretty cool that they bought me a Chevy.”
“Guys, make sure to go out and vote!”
I don’t have a car, I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have a college acceptance letter in my hand, or an “I voted!” sticker stuck to my t-shirt. I don’t make my own paycheck with a job at the breakfast place a couple minutes from school. Heck, I don’t even drive to school. I ride the bus every morning and afternoon and freeze my butt off in the winter, and I can’t even get the kid in front of me to close the freaking window, and even though he’s a freshman he looks like he could be a registered convict, I mean look at that beard. Come on.
To be this far behind in adulthood is possibly comical. If there were a Richter scale for how mature a person is, I’d be a solid 3.6. Or maybe a 4.2. I’ll give myself that.
Up until my junior year of high school (which I’m still trying to maneuver through, do not recommend, though I guess it isn’t optional), I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I hadn’t experienced much in the way of adulthood. I left that to the people I didn’t associate with: those that got caught drunk at the North vs. East game, those that left the empty orange Fanta bottles of vodka out in front of my house at three in the morning, and those that smoked pot and then lied to me about it over an honest cup of hot coffee. I thought that was adulthood, and to be completely honest with you, a part of me still does.
So, when those became my friends, I just short of lost it. Here I am, seventeen years old, just got my driver’s license, and I can’t even cook a damn pot of spaghetti. I get on the bus at 8:00 in the morning for my friend to show me the stick-and-poke that came out of the night before. My friend behind me in math tells me about how he just flew solo to New Jersey. These are all experiences, all of which I’ve experienced none of. So, call me the Anti-Experiencer. I’m no longer the friend that they’ll come to for advice, because I no longer have the experience that they don’t. It doesn’t matter that I can quote James Baldwin or make it to state-level choir, or write a full-length essay on the effects of social classification. As the token baby of the group, I now have nothing to give. I just sit there with Gerber carrot all over my face and make white noise, and no one really cares.
But dude, guess what? Thanksgiving came, and I discovered something while running through the grocery store trying to find ingredients for the forgotten Thanksgiving corn soufflé: I could sure lead. I dragged my cousins through the store and found that cream of corn, and they listened. Then I went home, and I wrote about stuff, and people on the internet listened. Then, I played a mediocre Pink Floyd on the guitar, and my dad listened (bless him). Then, I realized, I wasn’t just the kid at the Thanksgiving table, hearing the adults talk about taxes and jobs and money and philosophy. I was the kid at the Thanksgiving table, listening to what the adults had to say, and banking it for later.
Long story short, the Art of Falling Behind is an unconscious art, one that cloaks you when you least expect it, and it can become pretty suffocating if you aren’t willing to do anything about it. Sometimes sitting and listening is just enough, and for me, it took some soul-searching to figure that out. I’m cool with not acting adult, because guys, I’m seven-freaking-teen. Life’s just starting to make sense and simultaneously suck, all at the same time, and I guess when it’s time to wipe that carrot off my face, I’ll be smart enough to find a good napkin.
-Reed, the Ultra-Awesome Token Carrot Baby