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Justina Sharp Headshot

I Can't Work at Walmart

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"Only a few years and you'll be an adult!" This statement is usually issued by well-
meaning adults with a surreptitious wink at my mother. A wink I usually take to mean "or at least that's what she thinks, right?" It's true that in two years I'll be 18, and that'll
make me legally an adult. But in the grand scheme, it's also just a number. It doesn't come with a magical moment where you know all the stuff adults are supposed to know how to do. It doesn't make responsibilities easier. It just makes it legal for you to enter online sweepstakes and work at Walmart. You can start being a "grown up" long before then or long after.

This thought all started back in July when my friend, Dakota, officially flew out for military basic training in Oklahoma. He had graduated high school, wrapped up his term as a California 4-H state ambassador, and was off on this new adventure --something he had been working towards for a long time. He's 17. Not an adult by the legal definition, but making very adult decisions. He can't rent a movie from most places, but he can defend our country. I didn't realize how much his actual departure would affect me and the way I viewed growing up and when it actually starts.

Then, in September, my best friend moved from a house a half-hour from me to an apartment building halfway around the world. Madeline is now studying psychology in London. She's 18, and this has been her dream for years. She's worked ridiculously hard, studied every guide book and slaved over textbooks to get the perfect grades.

Now, she's living on her own, and doing little things that make her, in my eyes, an adult. Booking her own plane tickets, going grocery shopping, being in complete control of her personal life. I like to think I'm pretty independent, as most teenagers do, but how many of those things do you do for yourself? Would you even know where to start? I have a basic idea of how a loan works, but applying for one? Forget it. I don't even have a credit card.

My other friends are growing up around me, making plans, and decisions, that will affect the rest of their life. Where do I fit in? My life is so different from the standard, it's hard to compare. I'm home-schooled, and will probably graduate in May, a year before my friends and most kids my age. I've been fashion blogging since I was 13, an occupation that has definitely taught me a lot first-hand about the outside world. Earlier this year, I landed my first Teen Vogue feature and worked with the Disney Channel. I blog for HuffPost Teen! But if you add that up, it doesn't equal adult, it equals an accomplished teenager.

I made myself a list of "Things to Learn Before I Grown Up." Number one? Figure out the whole loan thing. Maybe learn to cook something other than burnt grilled cheese. But it's also important to me to enjoy being young. I like having my mom cook for me, and getting to just be goofy sometimes without worry. So in conclusion, my point is this: Being a grownup is less about your age, and more about what you do with your life.