As a kid, I had an adult-esque attitude about the passage of time; I knew my childhood wouldn't last forever, and I was determined to make the most of it while I could.
This meant that I wasn't as excited about my milestone birthdays as my peers were (with the exception of 12. I was more than ready to graduate from primary). I dreaded my 16th birthday because I wasn't ready to date yet. I loved imagining perfect dates in my little dream world, but in reality I just wanted to stay home on date nights and watch my favorite movies.
I wasn't that excited for my 18th birthday, either, because that meant entering the official ranks of adulthood. (If only I had known then what I know now--real adults don't consider 18-year-olds real adults.) I enjoyed having the legal right to sign my own permission forms my entire senior year of high school, but mostly I mourned what I could never have back.
Twenty-one wasn't a whole lot better. I had always told myself that if I was still single at that age, I would go on a mission. But I didn't want to serve a mission, and I wasn't anywhere near ready for marriage. Two things you don't hear a lot at BYU.
But by the time I hit my next sort-of-milestone birthday, 25, things were different. I had had enough life experience to feel like I had some control over the little things in life. I knew what to do when I had car problems. I sort of knew how health insurance worked. I was comfortable going to places on my own. I could occasionally splurge on a new book, shirt, or bacon cheeseburger without having to ask permission or explain my actions to anyone.
The wonder of childhood was gone, but it came with some pretty good trade-offs. Instead of worrying about what others thought of me, I got to know and like the person I am. The hermit hole I had envisioned spending my career-adult life in became a world unimpeded by ten-foot-thick steel walls of uncertainty and fear. A laid-back nature replaced my anxiety-filled one. "I can't" made way for "What's stopping me?"
In some ways, adulthood is still a let-down. Like when you realize it's actually kind of nice to have people telling you what to do. And when you realize that you spend more time standing in line at Walmart or the at driver's license place or at traffic lights than you do having parties and staying up past midnight.
But in other ways, it sets you free. That comforting yet smothering blanket of childhood and adolescence isn't there to shield you from the world while trapping you with so many unknowns. Life doesn't make a lot more sense from the adult perspective, but at least you are better equipped to handle it.