Birthday Benchmarks


The Catalyst / Created by Francesca Arbelaez

For teenagers, birthdays are significant milestones that mark their journey from childhood to adulthood. It is a time when they reflect on their past experiences and look forward to the future with excitement and anticipation. Birthdays not only provide an opportunity for them to celebrate their life but also serve as a reminder of their progress in their personal and academic lives. As teenagers approach their milestone birthdays such as 15, sweet 16 or 18 it is a time of great significance and anticipation.

For those that are 14, it may feel insignificant, but with this age comes privileges one might not be fully aware of. Once one turns 14, one can legally babysit, drive an electric bicycle and go to concerts without an adult.

“I would say there is some responsibility, but not an overwhelming amount since I cannot drive and am not close to going to college,” said freshman Ari Salerno. “I am excited to start driving and be more independent eventually.”

15 years of age marks the beginning of driving responsibilities. Some might be taking this year of their lives to prepare for the many years of driving they have in their future. Aside from obtaining a driver’s permit, 15-year-olds can finally rent movies. However, in this age of streaming services, renting physical movies is obsolete.

“I had a lot of fun turning 15,” said sophomore Hailey Degnan. “You don’t feel super old, but you also aren’t the youngest anymore.”

With your sweet 16 comes a mountain of privileges whether it be a real driver’s license or the right to change your name. You can work full time if you have left school, can apply for your own passport with a parent’s consent and pre-register to vote.

“Driving is absolutely the best part about being 16,” said junior Kayla Messik. “It has been a major life change for me and it makes everything so much easier. So much less complicated. So much more fun. I look forward to being 17 though and getting college applications over with.”

The middle ground between two big birthdays is 17. This in-between stage offers many new opportunities as you can now drive most vehicles including piloting a helicopter or plane. You might decide to become a blood donor or enlist in the military this year because now you can.

“My favorite thing is having my license for a year, so I can drive my friends around,” said junior Mallory Moore. “It gives me more independence that way.”

At 18 years old comes another huge milestone. You are now a legal adult and have the right to make decisions for yourself. These decisions can be cosmetic like tattoos and body piercings or the choice to vote, purchase fireworks or even win the lottery.

“Being an adult and making my own decisions is my favorite part about turning 18,” said senior Ciara Mangan. “But even better when I am 19 next year I’ll be in college living in a new area at a different stage in my life.”