18 and in Lockdown

Words by: Elodie Ricaud
Art by: Ruth Boneh

The year I kissed high school goodbye, I immediately felt eager for the next chapter of my life — officially entering adulthood! The thought of turning 18 was nerve-racking but equally exciting. New opportunities were on the horizon, or so I thought…

Being the socially inclined person I am, I had already mentally mapped out what my year would entail. Being in lockdown was not one of those things. Naturally, I was heartbroken when 2020 brought with it a transition that I had least expected; a mundane and antisocial schedule that was the polar opposite of festivity. 

For years prior, I had observed my family and friends entering the hustle and bustle of adulthood in a frenzy, running around from one thrilling event to the next. I would watch in awe as they huddled together in the bathroom to stack on their gold eyeshadows and strap on their seven-inch stilettos in preparation for a big night out in the city. I loved hearing about all the stories they shared after experiencing their new-found social freedom. In the meantime, on social media, my newsfeed was saturated with images of people attending all kinds of wacky festivals and travelling overseas. All these expectations had led me to believe that the year I turned 18 would be the very year I could finally experience it all

When it finally struck that lockdown would be sticking around for a while, I found myself unsettled as I re-evaluated how I should spend my sweet 18th without even having entered my first nightclub. After throwing my concert tickets in the bin, cancelling that overseas trip, lowering my expectations for my first year of university and forgetting about going for my P’s anytime soon, I had to grapple with the thought of redefining my year. Instead of frivolous fun, I was confronted with a stark reality that, although a bit depressing at times, provided me with crucial lessons about growing up. 

Entering adulthood can sometimes feel like a rush to become independent and get your life sorted, where thriving means cramming your calendar and doing the most. Even though Melbourne’s constant state of fluctuating lockdown has made that near impossible, the pressure still exists. Like other people my age that have fallen victim to the media’s subliminal influence, it can be easy to draw superficial comparisons between my life and the lives of others that have been neatly strung together in a highlight reel for Instagram. Likewise, there’s an unspoken pressure to live life instantaneously because ‘life is too short to miss out’. All these things have contributed to the high expectations that I had set out for myself. Yet, what’s left out are all the photos that demonstrate a more holistic perspective about the ups and downs of adulthood and that although yes, life may be short, patience and presence are ultimately part of that process.   

This new COVID-19 lifestyle has forced me to ditch my to-do list on many occasions. I’ve learnt to embrace the present moment and have adopted a more realistic version of ‘fun’ and ‘productivity’. I’ve changed my priorities to focus on things that serve a greater sense of fulfilment in my life, things like nourishing my mental health. As for the social aspect, I’ve found creative, alternative ways of connecting with others. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone to attend meetings I usually wouldn’t, only to find I’ve created strong bonds with new friends. 

Now in 2021, although I have yet to conquer the many things that I had planned to enjoy as a new ‘adult’, I can proudly say that I’ve matured in many other ways and experienced a great deal. I’ve become more satisfied with less and appreciative of every moment. If that’s not a fulfilling way to enter adulthood, then I don’t know what is! 

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