On being legit
Paige Affinito | Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Having just celebrated my 21st birthday, I’ve been disheartened in realizing that turning a year over 20 has not graced me with any more wisdom, beauty or poise. In fact, the morning after my birthday celebration, I felt I possessed these qualities less than ever. I’ll admit I’m disappointed, for I have always associated a certain sense of legitimacy (which goes beyond being of the legal drinking age) with the big two-one. I’ve internalized the age as the quintessential emergence into sophisticated adulthood. In my mind, this milestone birthday solidifies the transition from kid to grown-up table — from youthfulness to maturity. At 21, the “can’t” of adolescences shakes itself of its apostrophe t, becoming an adult C-A-N.
As I reminisce on how my childhood self viewed her 21-year-old future, I recall an image of someone who is definitely not the person I am today. I vaguely remember envisioning myself on my 21st birthday as a woman elegantly sipping a martini in an evening gown similar to that of Millennium Barbie. Flash-forward to reality: the evening of my birthday was spent in a dingy Chicago bar, singing “Party in the U.S.A” with a hefty, hairy acoustic guitarist. I was wearing American Eagle jeans just tight enough to expose the outline of my granny panties.
So it goes.
Unfortunately, the age of 21 has brought little else new but the lawful ability to consume an alcoholic beverage. But, I will say, I’ve developed a new appreciation for my driver’s license, which serves as plastic proof of my legality. I’m sure it will fade with time, but since becoming legal, I’ve gotten a rush from using my ID. Regardless of whether I’m showing it to a bouncer or simply using it as a form of photo identification I get a surge of validity whenever I hand it over.
The recipient’s silent approval upon scanning for my age provides a feeling of unrequited confidence and capability. In this fifteen-ish second exchange I am unable to keep this thought from running through my head: “Wowzers, I am totally legit!” This feeling of legitimacy goes so much more beyond rightful claims to vodka cranberries and front-door access to Feve. In this moment, I feel probably the closest to Millennium Barbie as I’ll ever be — sophisticated, ready to take on anything and absolutely on top of the world.
It’s occurred to me just how much I could use a similar rush of validity in other areas of my life. Wouldn’t it be awesome if a three-by-four rectangle could bring about similar feelings of sureness when it comes to, say, an exam? If only our greatest anxieties and doubts could be eradicated with a simple glance at our licenses. Imagine if an identification card could provide an automatic boost of confidence in situations of self-doubt and hesitation.
Picture this: in the wee hours of the morning as the thought “I can’t possibly cram for this midterm any longer” crosses your mind, you whip out a card that instantly reminds you of how capable you are of succeeding. Suddenly, you feel worthy of tackling the material and self-assuredly acing your exam. What if, before an interview, a quick glance at an ID could calm your nerves and allow you to proceed confidently?
At the bottom of this column, I’ve provided you with your very own “Legit Card,” a reminder of your validity in every sense of being. My hope is that it will bring about a rush of confidence similar to that which I’ve experienced with my newly legal license.
After reading through today’s newspaper, write your name on the card, paste your picture and cut it out. Keep this ID in your backpack or wallet. It is not so much meant to be shared with others as it is a personal reminder of your unique aptitude and abilities. You, reader, are totally legit. You have so much potential and are built for success. It’s just nice to have a reminder from time to time. You got this.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.