16: an open letter to getting older

Dear 16,

As a child, You seemed to be this age where everything in my life was supposed to click; it was the age that I dreamt of. Whether it was having a giant sweet 16 party with all my friends and family there for me, or being able to drive, it seemed like this fairytale land where I figure out who I am, along with everything in my life, and start growing up into the adult that I will inevitably become. But what I didn’t realize is that growing up means getting more responsibility. You are where life gets busy and complicated; You are where I practice being an adult.

Automatically, when thinking of You, I knew I would be getting my license. In my mind this meant freedom, and while it still does, there is much more involved. From finding a car, to paying for it, to getting in my first accident, driving is probably the most responsibility that I’ve had up to this point in my life. Now when driving from point A to point B there is so much that I have to think about; I actually have to make sure there is enough time allotted for traffic so I’m not late, I have to make sure there is enough gas to get there and back, and I have to know how to get there as well as how to get home. While riding as a passenger in the car, I didn’t have to worry about any of it, and now it is my obligation. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love driving, but You have taught me about how I need to take care of my things.

While looking at cars to buy, my dad asked how I was going to pay for it. This had never occurred to me before but then I realized I was going to have to pay for stuff now, including a car, gas, food if I wanted to go out, along with so many other things with my money. Luckily I was able to take my dad’s car after he got a new one - we made the agreement that I would have to pay for gas along with some of my insurance in exchange for my car. But the question still remained, how was I going to pay for everything? This is the moment I realized I would have to get a job. I had babysat in the past a few times, but other than that I had absolutely no experience filling out applications, going to interviews, or working at a real job for that matter. I was fortunate enough to get a job at the same place a couple of my friends work (at a trampoline park in case you were wondering) hosting birthday parties for kids. It is a job that I love doing, along with getting tips. You have shown me how to find a job that makes me happy and I will forever thank you for that.

You were the age where I thought my life would be perfect, but that isn’t the case, in fact you are the time in my life where I have never been busier - from taking AP classes, to working, to writing for this magazine, to being editor of my school yearbook, to swimming in the school swim team, I have never been this engrossed in my life. In my head, I thought I would have it all, including a cliché romance, a group of best friends who loved me, and a set path in my life that I knew I would follow until the end. The simple fact is, that’s just not reality. Life changes, people come and go, plans that you’ve had since the beginning get murky. I may want something now, but that could change tomorrow. People aren’t as accepting or as nice as they once were in elementary school and boys certainly aren’t chasing after me, but that is completely okay with me. You have revealed to me an alternate dream of a reality that I’m perfectly happy with living.

On the day that this is published, I will have been age 16 for 15 days. That’s 360 hours. 21,600 minutes. 1,296,000 seconds. For every hour, minute, and second of it, you have taught me something new about myself or the world I live in. You have literally shaped me into the person I am right now. You weren’t what expected, but something better. So here is to the next 350 days of You, 16. I am hopeful for what they will bring.


Your biggest fan-

Abby McFarland ✉

piece by: abby mcfarland

visual by: abby mcfarland



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