The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Why should 19 look different than seven?

| Monday, September 2, 2019

I’ve been obsessed with being “adult” for as long as I can remember.

When I was in second grade, my little sister and I made computers out of Styrofoam and pretended we worked in a fancy office. By the time I was in eighth grade, most of my clothes came from Ann Taylor Loft. In high school, my Honda Pilot was outfitted with car seats and all the snacks. 

But, at the same time, I’m one of the most childish people I know, especially when it comes to making spontaneous decisions.

Two months ago, I had scabbed knees and bruised elbows because my best friend and I rode Bird scooters down a steep hill in Memphis, Tennessee.

One month ago, I fell into the Puget Sound because I thought I was a much more skilled paddle board yogi than I actually am (google the crow pose and you’ll understand).

And, finally, I really wanted to decorate a cake last week.

If you’re confused and trying to figure out how cake decor fits into the realm of spontaneous and adventurous, calm down … I’m getting there!

Obviously, we’re not talking about just any cake. This is one of those cool cakes with fondant flowers and colorful frosting and sugar pearls.

But, the kitchen of my summer dorm (shoutout Seattle University) was not outfitted for such a culinary feat, so I did what any rational person would do. I called an Uber to take me to the magical establishment known as Miss Froglegs Kids Culinary Academy in North Seattle. Duh.

As I entered the building, I was overwhelmed by the scent of pure sugar and the feeling of pure joy. But, the 16-year-old at the counter looked confused by my presence. 

I was undeterred by his clear judgement of me, a 19-year-old alone at the site of every seven-year-old’s dream birthday party, and strode up to the counter, declaring, “Hi. I am here to decorate a cake.”

He laughed and directed me to a workstation that was outfitted with containers of assorted sprinkles and candy, frosting in every possible color, and tiny rolls of colorful fondant. He then handed me a bakery box that held a six-inch vanilla cake with white frosting and set me loose to make this cake look however I wanted.

It was oddly liberating. No one told me what I couldn’t do or tried to provide direction. I was just alone with my cake and my imagination.

It was like being a kid again.

Being in college, on the cusp of full-time adulthood and the edge of childhood, I often find myself wrapped up in direction. Did I pick the right major? Does it make me look studious enough? Is my resume strong enough or will I be doomed to live with my parents forever? Do I seem mature and responsible and deserving of a successful life?

These questions and the many others that come with them are all roundabout ways of asking the overlying question: Am I doing this adult thing right? Is this the beginning of the amazing life I’ve been picturing for as long as I can remember?

As I sat on a tiny blue stool and partook in the least adult activity, I realized that these ponderings don’t really matter. There is no “right way” to be adult and there is no “correct” future I need to fit into.

Instead of trying to shove myself into the boxes of my major and career prospects, I just need to chill out and reconnect with my imagination. Becoming an adult doesn’t mean I have to give up my childish side.

When I was little, I had amazing aspirations and dreams, and I was able to sustain them because I wasn’t constantly focusing on the next step on the path to success. I just did whatever made me feel most fulfilled in each moment.

Being “adult” can mean a million different things, so why would I force myself into a boring adulthood that forgets how necessary it is to do completely unnecessary things sometimes. Instead of constantly reaching for the future, I want to try to live in each moment in a way that would make my younger self proud. 

Maybe the spontaneous thing isn’t for everybody, but I think that’s my point. It’s always been my thing, so I shouldn’t quit it just because I’m getting old. We should all find those things that make us who we are and keep them up, especially as we “grow up.” That’s how I think we can master adulting. 

Also, cake is super important. So, the more cakes that this adulting thing includes, the better.


Ashton Weber is a sophomore with lots of opinions. She is majoring in econ and film, television and theatre with a JED minor. Making new friends is one of her favorite things, so feel free to contact her at [email protected] or @awebz01 on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , ,

About Ashton Weber

Ashton is a current Sophomore majoring in Economics and FTT, and minoring in the Gallivan Journalism Program. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but now resides in Flaherty Hall. Feel free to contact her about anything... literally, anything. She is often bored.

Contact Ashton