Not-So-Sweet Sixteen

Marietta Lehmitz and Emily Andersen

It’s your sixteenth birthday. The quarterback of the football team (aka your boyfriend) took you out to dinner at your favorite five star restaurant, and at precisely seven o’clock you walk through your front door to the surprise birthday party of your dreams. The cake is bigger than a wedding cake, and the whole school is there jamming out to your favorite tunes while mystical light comes from the ceiling. Your parents walk over and hand you the keys to your brand new convertible. Your life is perfect.
Let’s get realistic. Being sixteen is overrated. It’s an age that has been glamorized in every movie and T.V. show you ever watched as a child, but what happens when you get there? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
In the minds of many teens, sixteen means driving, and driving means freedom from parents and other responsibilities. Driving is actually a huge time commitment and can be scary when you get behind the wheel for the first time. If you were planning on getting your license on your sixteenth birthday, you have to have your learner’s permit for at least six months and complete the forty hours of driving with an adult in the car. Even, after you do get your license you still don’t get all driving privileges. When you get your license you become a taxi driver for your younger siblings and are expected to run errands all the time. You can’t take your friends anywhere or be out on the road between the hours of midnight to 5 a.m, unless you’re a farmer. Wearing overalls doesn’t count I’ve tried.
For many people in Utah, turning sixteen means you’re finally allowed to date. Newsflash: the only dates you will go on before graduation are school dances, and you’ll probably do all the asking. Start coming up with food-related puns because you’re going to need them. (See “Asking People Out” in the Motherlode). Know that your first date will be super-duper awkward, no matter what you do. If it’s a dance (which it probably will be, but probably shouldn’t be) it will be especially awkward, since sixteen year old boys are usually shorter than sixteen year old girls and don’t know that their hand goes on your shoulder blade and nowhere else. All in all, dating is an art that must be learned through much trial and error. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a class?
Society and media wants us to believe that 16 is the best year of your life. Even though you can now drive and date, there is nothing amazing about being 16. You feel exactly the same as fifteen and people are even less mature. Turning sixteen is a waste of time. Too bad it can’t be avoided. Maybe 18 will be better…