Sweet sixteens and other rites of passage

Tomorrow is my sixteenth birthday(!!!) As it always is for me, it’s exciting and strange to be turning another age. This time, with all the created hype around this specific number, it’s a little more crazy. I’ve always somewhat subconsciously and somewhat jokingly kept a list of rites of passage in my head, and turning sixteen is one of them- even though it doesn’t require anything of you except staying alive.

I don’t think I would have ever put into words that this list even existed in my brain, but as writing does, it helped me form thoughts I didn’t even know I had. And as writing also tends to do for me, it helped me realize stuff. Writing about these rites of passage made me realize that this list is so specific to me, specific to where I’ve grown up and with whom I’ve grown up with. It makes me wonder what this list would look like for people over the world. This is what mine looks like.

Turning sixteen

It’s interesting which birthdays different cultures emphasize. Sweet sixteens, quinceañeras, bar and bat mitzvahs. By the way, I’ve never known which mitzvah is which, so here’s a memory trick I came up with: “Roy the boy.” Roy is for the “r” in bar mitzvah, which is for boys.

I asked my mom what birthday is important in China, and she said people like the birthdays that have to with the number 9. 9, 19, 29, 79, 999. It’s because the word “nine” in Mandarin sounds like the word “a long time” while the word “ten” sounds like “to die.” The weird thing though is that people celebrate their 60th birthday at age 59. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s so that the “good” number counteracts the “bad” number? No idea. And she also mentioned how in Japan, buildings skip floor fourteen.

Last month, my parents asked if I wanted to have a birthday party. It was a little surprising because neither of them are big on birthday parties, but also not, because my sister had a sweet sixteen party and I think they wanted to be fair.

Them proposing the possibility of a party did make my mind go into daydreaming mode, but I said no. I don’t really like hosting in general because however long the thing is, I feel like I’m responsible for everyone’s happiness. And also, parties are so hard to do. You have to a) come up with an idea b) make a guest list and c) actually pull it off.

For part a), here’s a list that will hopefully be helpful to anyone who’s looking for birthday party ideas. It’s a compilation of party concepts friends and classmates of mine have thought of and executed this school year.
-a sleepover over at the zoo
-an art lesson where a watercolor artist comes over to your house and shows everyone how to make something
-dance parties with different themes: red carpet, 50s fiesta (it was a compromise between Lexy and her twin that’s a guy), and space
-brunch in pajamas
-pool party (This was during the summer, and Moana came. My friend loves the movie and her parents asked the most recent Disney princess to come as a surprise. She came in singing, and everybody freaked. Then we found out she was a year or two younger than us, and yes, this was the first birthday party she’d been hired to sing at that was for a bunch of teenage girls and not five-year olds.)

I also came up with some ideas:
-an escape room
I’ve never done any of those things before, but I think they have the potential to be great parties. I didn’t even know the last one was a thing until my art teacher told us she was going to an ax-throwing class with her husband last weekend She said they also brought their baby with them-not bringing in the sense that the baby participated, but in the sense of them being parents. Just imagine if a kid grew up learning how to throw axes. Nobody would mess with them.

Getting braces

This one also makes me think about how different cultures emphasize different things, specifically in beauty. I think America puts more weight on straight, white teeth than other places in the world. Another contrast I’ve noticed is over skin tones. At school I hear my friends talk about how pale they are, how their skin is the same color as a piece of paper, self-tanner and spray tans, and tanning gone wrong. At home, my mom likes when I have fairer skin in the winter than when I get darker in the summer.

My friend actually sent me this video recently. It’s about this crazy webcam thing where some people make a lot money off of what sounds like vlog videos but live-streamed. I haven’t watched it yet, but she told me it also talks about the insane beauty culture and parents actually encouraging their kids to get plastic surgery because being beautiful is now important for their careers.

Standardized tests

Ah, SATs and ACTs. I’m going to keep my thoughts on this one brief. It doesn’t need or deserve elaboration. Except this single thought. Have you seen Khan Academy’s program that joins with your College Board stuff and offers free SAT prep? It’s really cool. Khan Academy in general is cool.

Learning how to drive

The horror of parallel parking seems to be the one thing that has been crowned the hardest part about driving, but it hasn’t been bad. When it’s between two cones, that is. Two cars will probably be a different story.

The hardest part in my opinion was getting the hang of everything at first. Remembering how to get the car moving. Figuring out how to do turns. Being okay with going over ten miles an hour. Knowing when to go on right and left turns. Staying in between the lines and not scraping against the curb. Checking mirrors.

And there were other things that completely surprised me that I’d never heard about before. Like how the car moves when you’re not pressing the gas or the brake and how painful it is to hold the steering wheel on a cold winter morning.

Then there’s also the driving test. Over the years, there has had to be so many plotlines written around that and people failing it. I distinctly remember a Hannah Montana episode where she fails it and is so embarrassed about it because she already bragged about it to everyone and then her dad drives her to the party and reveals her lie to all her friends.

Anyways. After talking about the embarrassment that comes with not passing at school, I asked my dad what he thought about it, and I found out then that he failed his test four times. One more time and he would’ve had to take the paper test again. He said the first test, the instructor asked him to press the horn as part of the car check. My dad was like what?, and the instructor was like, the horn! the horn! But he didn’t know what was going on and that had him frazzled the whole test. What a priceless family story.

Also, this is a something I thought of while driving on the highway. I noticed that even though you’re going seventy miles an hour, it doesn’t seem like you’re going that fast because everybody’s going that fast. That feels like how life is too. How much you achieve or don’t achieve only seems that way because of who you’re by. You might be working way too much, but if everybody around you is too, you will still feel like you’re not doing enough.

Which goes with the idea I heard on the Tim Ferriss podcast that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And the one that I heard on Evernote’s Focus Culture podcast with James Clear– it’s the idea that a habit is easier to form when you surround yourself with people with whom the lifestyle you want is their norm. James Clear is the author of the Atomic Habits, which is a book I’ve been seeing around a bunch recently.

Summer jobs

The most classic summer job would probably be working at an ice-cream shop, but that’s not a job I would go for in real life. I want to either work at a bookstore or newspaper (for free) or something like that because words, at In-n-Out because I’ve heard their salary is better than most jobs you can get without a diploma, or at a restaurant or a grocery store because I think I need to know what it’s like being on the other side of things.

Birthday party ideas?
Did you ever watch Hannah Montana or other Disney Channel shows? Wizards of Waverly Place. Suite Life on Deck. Yep.
Have you had a summer job?

26 thoughts on “Sweet sixteens and other rites of passage”

  1. Ha, I’m late but you’re a lot younger than I thought! Then again, I was lazy for not knowing 😛 I remember when I was sixteen and even before that time and I was expecting it to be really special but…it wasn’t xD And now I’m 20 and birthdays don’t really feel that special anymore (because my family doesn’t celebrate them much anymore, apart from ordering take away).

    I also really REALLY want braces. I feel that I’ve wasted so much time not getting them. I should have gotten them when I was twelve and when I could have gotten them for free. ugh 😦 I can’t smile properly, to be honest.

    Did I watch Hannah Montana and other Disney shows? Of course! xD I was such a fan of them that I even looked up ones that were already over by the time I started to watch Disney channel a lot… some years ago, e.g. Lizzie McGuire, Smart Guy, Recess, Phil of The Future!. I always thought Nickelodeon was better, though 😛

    Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Suite Life on Deck… those were the days… and Phineas and Ferb… Jonas? Jonas LA? Sonny With a Chance… dang. I’m excluding some but whatever. How about Disney XD? Zeke and Luther? I’m in the band (wasn’t that good of a show but still)

    I didn’t watch much cartoons. Also didn’t watch wizards of waverly place because my mum doesn’t like us watching shows about witches and stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting! In real life, age is usually one of the things you definitely know about people (actually, that’s not always true with younger kids, I always get mixed up), but online, it’s not. Hahaha, I feel like for me, birthdays are always a combination of special and mundane. That’s what my parents say about their birthdays, they’ve had more of them and the special-ness decreases.
      Oh, I feel like getting braces when you’re older is something that’s getting more and more normal! Especially with invisi-line. Wait, at least I think that’s what it’s called. Oh no, I hate that feeling when you feel restricted in your own body. I’m really sorry.
      Haha, I know right?? Me too. I think a lot of people will agree that the old Disney shows are better than the news one that are coming out. I didn’t really watch Nickelodeon! I wished I had watched Phineas and Ferb though.
      Yes, Suite Life on Deck was amazing. I haven’t heard of Zeke and Luther! What was it about? Oh, that makes sense, I get that. My mom is like that with Harry Potter. I just don’t think my mom was that knowledgeable about Disney Channel, so I think it slid under her radar.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sad I didn’t see this post when it was closer to your birthday…but happy very late birthday! (Hey, your birthday is one day after my mom’s.) I hope sixteen is turning out to be a great year so far for you. 🙂
    Ahh, driving. I’ve had my license for over five months now, and I still haven’t gone on the highway. Or used parallel parking anytime besides on my drivers test. So far my favorite driving moment has been driving home from dance by myself when it’s dark outside and about 9:10pm, singing the lyrics to a Hamilton song as loud as I can.
    Summer job! I’m stressed about that. I need to get one this summer, but I’m stressed because a) I’m scared to ask places if they’re hiring since I’m shy, b) I’m scared for the interview, and c) what if I’m bad at the job? I also don’t really know where I want to work, but it’s okay. A lot of the places I was thinking I might want to work at don’t actually hire people for just the summer- like Hallmark and this dance store near my house.
    It is cool how College Board can connect to Khan Academy! We had to do that in my English class a couple months ago, I guess so they could make sure everyone at least connected their scores. Whether or not people use the resource is questionable.
    I agree, birthday parties can be difficult to pull off. I had one for the first time in a long time when I turned sixteen, but it was really lowkey. I just had my dance friends over (my ‘dance friends’ is a group of 5 other girls) and we talked, took pictures, and watched old dance recitals from when we were in elementary school. One fun idea for a party is to do an Escape Room! I did that at one of my friend’s parties years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! And that’s amazing, happy very late birthday to your mom! Thank you :))
      Haha, I’ve gone on the highway but I haven’t gotten my license yet. At the driving school I went to, they make you go on the highway during one of the drive times. Nope, I do not plan on parallel parking anytime soon-good thing that where we live, it’s not really necessary. Oh, that sounds so fun! The idea of being alone in a moving car is still a bit weird to me. It’s weird that it’s something so mundane that I will experience for the first time after being alive for sixteen years.
      Oh, if you don’t want to ask, you could try looking online! And I know it’s not always helpful when other people tell you they don’t think something is scary/stressful that you do, but for me, the two interviews that I’ve had were lowkey. Update on the summer job-still a work in progress.
      It is! I like Khan Academy as an organization in general. Hahaha, I agree. I think that goes for so many of the resources schools provide.
      I know right? Oh yea, I did consider doing an Escape Room! I think that would be fun. Your birthday party sounds amazing. I love looking at old photos and videos. In Spanish class we’re learning about the imperfect tense so my teacher created this project about our childhoods, and for half a class period we looked at pictures of us as kids we had sent her. If there ever was a game show of that for famous people or something, I would lose. I had a hard time guessing on most of them. But then sometimes people would look exactly the same! It’s weird.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, that makes sense! I did driver’s ed online, so my parents were my teachers and they did not make me go on the highway since I was scared. I’m finally starting to feel ready. Haha, yes, parallel parking is thankfully not necessary!
        Thank you for the advice! I’m glad your interviews so far weren’t that bad. Where did you interview? Like, a food place or a grocery store or some other category?
        It would be fun! And thank you, same here. :)) That’s a fun way to learn about the imperfect tense! We just made a booklet, haha, but I wish we had done the childhood photo thing. XD I feel like I’m one of those people who looks kind of different from when I was little, but my sister is one of those people that looks the same (just a lot older).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh yes, so many of my friends did driver’s ed online. I’ve seen people do it in class too, or at lunch.
          You’re welcome! I interviewed for Chick-fil-a at the foodcourt in the small and then at In-n-out., so both food places. Haha, it was fun! We also made a booklet/folder thing for all the preterite and imperfect rules! Hm, I think I’ve always looked kind of the same, but definitely for the past like seven years.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. No, I don’t mind asking at all! Both were under thirty minutes. They both started with the general question of what I do (I answered with school activities and other activities). Some other questions I remember is Chick-fil-a asked me why I wanted to work there, In-n-out asked how I deal with stress. I hope that gives a good picture :))

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Staying alive is an accomplishment, congratulations. 😉
    An axe-throwing parting? That sounds amazing. Or terrifying. Or both.
    I haven’t done many parties, but my sister once had an epic battle for her birthday- we were all armed with foam swords and we ran around killing each other. It was actually sort of like capture the flag in Percy Jackson, except we didn’t have real weapons.
    I never watched Hannah Montana, but I remember watching Kim Possible (that’s Disney Channel, right?) and That’s So Raven when we went on trips. We didn’t have Disney Channel at home. Normally we watched a lot of PBS kids shows like Mr. Rogers and Zaboomafoo.
    I have never had a real summer job. Which is ridiculous because I am in my twenties? I worked at my grandparents bakery for a while, which was amazing, but it wasn’t a summer job. I would like to work at a library or a bookstore.
    I like what you said about driving fast but it not feeling fast because everyone else is. That’s a really good point about life being that way too. We compare ourselves to each other so much. It can be easy to lose sight of what is actually going on.
    Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. :))
      Hahaha, I know! It would be for sure out of the ordinary.
      Oh my goodness, that sounds amazing. Okay, I’m adding that onto my list of birthday party ideas. It would also be fun to have Nerf guns! Do you remember what the rules were, or if there were any rules at all?
      Oh great, I’m not sure about Kim Possible. That’s a show I didn’t watch. Oh yes, That’s So Raven! I’ve watched a few episodes of that. Mr. Rogers! That’s a show I wish I watched when I was younger. I watched the documentary about him called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? on an airplane flight last year. I looked Zamboomafoo up and saw that it by the Kratt Brothers- I watched Wild Kratts by them!
      You worked at a bakery?? Okay, that sounds fantastic. Yep, I would want to work at a library or a bookstore too. I think I would actually rather work at a library more.
      Thank you, thank you. I know, I think it’s very hard to find a good amount of gauging things compared to other people but that not making you do unhealthy things.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Um, I don’e exactly remember the rules to the battle- except we had boundaries (it was on a huge piece of land with fields and trees and stuff) and I think we had flags we were trying to retrieve like in capture the flag. Unfortunately I don’t remember exactly what we did with killing and prisoners and things, though I recall that we did have rules about those things.
        Yes, working at a bakery was great. The food was amazing, and sometimes we got to eat extras and tests. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This post is marvelous, let me tell you. I’ve had so much fun reading through it! And happy early birthdayyy! (Apologizes in advance for the long comment).
    I’ve thought a lot about growing up & rites of passage as well. Actually, I feel like most things you mentioned in your post – driving tests, summer jobs – are all very American rites of passages. In my country, you’re not allowed to drive until you’re 18, and even then, it’s hard to find people who are already driving at this age. The same goes for summer jobs; I think most kids don’t even worry about working until they’re already legal. It’s also not common to get a job for only a short period of time, such as three months.
    As for your birthday parties ideas, I’m shook: sleepover at a zoo? And Moana singing for teenage girls? I’m in awe! Birthday parties aren’t very common for me; most people I know celebrate their birthdays by going to a nice restaurant or something. Except for when they turn 15 – that’s the only rite of passage in my country that I can think of. For girl’s 15th birthday, there’s usually a massive birthday party or a very special event. In my case, I got the chance to travel to Disney World and it was amazing. If you’re throwing a party, it’s a very glamourous, expensive one where the girl wears three different dresses, dances with her father and passes a doll to the youngest girl in the family. She also invites 15 other girls & guys to dance around her. It’s so extra and full of traditions that I don’t get myself, but oh well.
    And as for the Disney Channel shows – I loved all of them sooooo much. The Suit Life of Zack & Cody was my favorite, but I loved Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place & Sonny With a Chance just as much. Good Luck, Charlie was also a lot of fun.
    Once again, happy early birthday! I hope you have an amazing day! (And again, I’m sorry for the essay sdskjfd I can never shut up. And your post was so much fun I just had a lot to talk about!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, thank you!!! Hahaha, no apologies needed at all. Long comments are the best. :))
      Yes, I agree! I do think they’re very American too. Whoa, not driving until eighteen. I wonder how different the idea of being a teenager here would be if you couldn’t drive until that age. Is that the same age you can start voting where you live too? Ohh, that’s interesting. I agree, three months is a short time to hold a job. And the employer knows they’ll be losing a bunch of workers when school starts.
      I know! The sleepover at the zoo idea is so great. Haha, speaking of fancy restaurants, I actually went to Chick-fil-a for dinner on my birthday! Have you ever been to one? Disney World! That’s awesome. What was your favorite part of it? Two things I remember are Space Mountain and a show in Animal Kingdom. I also heard that a new Jurassic Park(?) ride is brilliant. Wow, that sounds as intense as a wedding. That reminds me of the Wizards of Waverly Place episode where Alex wears that pink dress!
      YES, the Suite Life of Zack & Cody. I watched so much of that show. Yep, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Good Luck, Charlie. I did watch Sonny With a Chance but not as much as the others. I do remember that episode where she gets stuck in her skinny jeans.
      Thank you so much!!! Ahhh, thank you again. :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You can legally start voting by the age of 16, but in my country, voting is mandatory starting from 18. Recently, more and more young people have started to vote even if they’re not actually required to, which I think it’s pretty awesome!
        Ha, I’ve never had Chick-fil-a, but literally everyone I follow on YouTube is obsessed? Hahah. What’s your favorite thing to order there?
        My favorite thing in Disney World is the ride Mount Everest, in Animal Kingdom. I also adore Space Mountain, it was definitely a loooot of fun. I don’t think I went to any Jurassic Park rides, but there’s a new King Kong one and basically there are jump scares while you’re in the line? I almost peed my pants, no joke, hahahah.
        It really is like a wedding! Probably around the same prince range as well, lol.
        (And the skinny jeans episode was so hilarious! One of the most memorable episodes for me is for The Suite Life on Deck, the International Date Line one, where they keep living the same day over and over again. I still joke about it with my friends to this day.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh wow, mandatory voting? That’s interesting. That is cool! There was a campaign for young people to vote during the past midterm elections here. Haha, I remember Taylor Swift posting something about her voting.
          Ha, that’s funny! Who do you watch on Youtube? I know a youtuber I watch, Haley Pham, is obsessed with it. Ohh, I like so many things- the original sandwich, the spicy one, their grilled sandwich is good too and so is their cobb salad. And the fries, of course. I used to not be the biggest fan of them, but I’ve changed my mind.
          Oh, I don’t remember riding Animal Kingdom! For Space Mountain, I heard you go upside down in it but if that’s true, I had no idea during the ride because of the dark. Hahaha, I didn’t know about the King Kong one. I love that, they start the experience before you even get on the ride.
          Darn, I don’t remember the International Date Line one. I do remember the one where London goes through the ghosts of Christmas and then at the very end she gives Bailey her closet space back.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Your comment made me so hungry, lol. It really sounds delicious, honestly. I watch a lot of family vlog channels, because I love babies & kids a lot. KKandbabyJ is one of my favorites and they’re definitely big Chick-fil-a lovers. I really like Marla Catherine’s channel too; I think she’s the most similar of the ones I watch to Haley Pham.
            And I’m the sameeee: I didn’t even know Space Mountain had a loop, because it was literally impossible to see anything there, hahah. I also didn’t feel it much, since it is so fast anyway.
            London and Bailey were definitely an underrated duo, hahah. I remember this episode, as well as the one where they visit Bailey’s family in the countryside during a hurricane. It’s hilarious! Zack & Cody really was the best!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hahaha oops! I did not mean to do that. ;)) Oh yea, I think I’ve seen Marla Catherine’s videos before. I think her content is similar to Haley Pham’s too. Oh wait, Avery Ovard is in the feature video on Marla Catherine’s page. Have you seen Aspyn Ovard’s videos or heard that she’s going to have a baby??
              I know! I remember it being completely dark even with the flashing lights.
              Wait, I feel like I remember that episode but I don’t really. That sounds hilarious. I know! At church yesterday we were actually playing a finish the lyrics/guess the song game and the bonus question was The Suite Life on Deck theme song but I didn’t recognize it at all.


              1. I did see her video about the baby! I was sooo excited! Basically, family channels and kids are my favorite thing in the world and so I cry every time I hear the news of someone having a baby – even if I only follow them online, hahah.
                I am only able to sing the theme song in Portuguese, though. They translated everything for Disney Channel Brazil, so I probably wouldn’t have guessed it right either!

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I heard about her baby at school during lunch. But I was much more excited when I heard that another Youtuber, Ryan Higa, is officially dating someone! I don’t know if you know him, but he makes skits. They’ve been dating for years and people have noticed, but he didn’t confirm it until now.
                  Oh, haha!


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