Age is a number. It’s not just a number, it’s a representation of your life, an uptick that shows how long someone has survived in life. It shows an idea of how much experience we have had and can be a predictor of how much experience we have left to come. At least, that is the way that I like to think about it. In truth, your age can mean many numbers of scary things, especially amongst the time of adolescence and young adulthood, when your age provides you more and more freedoms and capabilities. Sometimes, it is the rules and lack of choice that will be the scariest, especially when we do not know what we are capable of.
There are several things that you can do as a sixteen-year-old that may seem important. The one that most people likely think of is that sixteen-year-olds in England can legally consent to sex, as long as the person that they are having sexual intercourse with is not in a position of power and trust such as a teacher because of the power imbalance. Another important thing that a teenager can do at 16 is they can work to earn the UK minimum wage for people of that specific age bracket. The minimum living wage for those 16 is lower than it is for higher age brackets, however. Teenagers can also live independent of their guardians at 16, whether they move out on their own or whether they are asked to move out by their guardians. Children aged 16 can get married but only with parental permission. You can also join the armed forces at 16, as long as you are given a parent’s permission. While being sixteen does allow for a lot of things, it does not necessarily mean that we are allowed complete freedoms from that point on.
One of the major milestones of our early lives is our eighteenth birthday. While a lot becomes legal at the 16th birthday, the 18th is still very important. Firstly, in the UK, 18 is the legal minimum age for voting, meaning that once someone reaches 18, they are allowed to vote. You will also be considered an adult in the eyes of the law, meaning that criminal convictions will be tried at the adult level. At 18, you can also legally stand for local MP, councilor or mayor. 18-year-olds are also able to serve on a jury. While there is likely little need for it so early on, you can also make a will at the age of 18. It is also legal to pawn things off at a porn shop at this age. Many of the things that required parental permission before, such as getting married and moving out of the house, now no longer require said permission from parents. While this is when children become free legally, it is also when they stop being seen as children in the eyes of the law and the government.
Sometimes aging and growing up can be hard. While it may not seem like it, what time that we do have is a commodity and although sometimes it is hard to try and make the most of it with what we are allowed to do, we must continue to try and find a way to enjoy ourselves in this world.