How to: adulting


Photo by Sara Vechinski

Clare Hannon ‘20 celebrates her birthday with flowers, treats, and balloons, including a large “18” to signify her coming of age.

Most teenagers anxiously await their 18th birthday, as the legal recognition of being an adult signifies a shift in their life. While many like to focus on the perks of turning 18, like staying out with no legal curfew, entering new concert venues, and buying spray paint, fireworks (if you are not living in California), and lottery tickets, there are plenty of new responsibilities that accompany the birthday. While school is great for teaching you trigonometry, when it comes to learning how to navigate the complex world of insurance or being a good homeowner, well, keep reading and you will be better prepared for your future. 


Filing taxes sounds terrifying, but in reality it is much more simple than it seems when you are 18. 

“It is very easy when you’re young,” Mr. Tom Rickling. 

You need one form, which is called 1040, that you can download off the Internal Revenue Service website. You receive a form called the W2 from employer through the mail, likely in January, which gives you all the income information needed to fill out the 1040. 

The form walks you through each step and where each number belongs, and depending on how much you have paid in taxes throughout the year, you will either have to mail in a check or you will receive one from the IRS.  

Since most 18 year olds do not have any dependents or property, the process is incredibly simple and straightforward, so fear not!

Voting Basics

Thanks to the Twenty-sixth Amendment, 18 year-olds now have the right to vote.

Step 1: Visit the California Online Voter Registration website.

Step 2: Fill out the voter registration application with the necessary information.

Step 3: Receive registration confirmation via mail.

You will receive a card in the mail with your voting poll location, which you will go to on the voting day between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You walk in, state your name and address, then sign a piece of paper. They will give you a ballot depending on what party you register with, then you will go into a little cardboard booth to mark the sheet with a marker. When you finish, you place the ballot into the privacy sleeve, hand it back to the poll workers. Then you get a sticker that reads “I voted”.

When it comes to voting, it is imperative to be aware of all the things candidates stand for and promise. The best way to know these things is to read voters pamphlets, watch the news, and conduct your own research. 

Home Ec 101

If you are going to be living on your own, it is important to know some basic home economics. 

When doing laundry, separate the lights and darks, so as to avoid color deformation. Then place a load in the wash basin, leaving enough room for the clothes to move around, and put laundry detergent in the designated place for it, but do not overfill it. Once your load is done, place it in the dryer, but be sure to clean the lint trap every time, so as to make your dryer run more efficiently. 

When cleaning, it is important to know what cleaning solution works best on the material you are trying to clean, so be sure to read the bottles. The most important things to remember are that a little bit of bleach goes a long way, and never mix bleach and ammonia, as it creates chlorine gas that at best will irritate your eyes and at worst kill you. 

When cooking, remember to cook meat thoroughly, which can be checked using a meat thermometer, clean as you go, and keep your food and ingredients sealed and stored properly. 


Alright boys, this one is for you. 

Once you turn 18, you have to register for the draft, however since it is peacetime, a man’s only duty right now under the Military Selective Service Act is to register at age 18 and then to let Selective Service know within 10 days of any changes in the information he provided on his registration form until he turns 26 years old, according to the Selective Service System. 

You can either register online or by printing and mailing this form.

Credit card – build or destroy 

When you turn 18, you have the opportunity to get a credit card, which is a good way to build your credit score – or utterly destroy it. 

Your credit score shows lenders how likely you are to repay debts, and so it is important to have a good credit score to make large purchases or take out loans. 

The best way to build your credit score is to pay off all your debts in a timely manner. Avoid credit card debt at all costs.

Generally, you want a score higher than 725, as you will have more options for loans and lower interest rates. If your score is below 650, you will not be able to get a loan. 

Identity Protection

Identity protection is more than making sure you hide your social security card. One way to ensure no one can access your credit is to freeze it through your bank. Essentially saying that you will not be making any major purchases, so you will not be checking your credit. Therefore, if someone checks it, the bank will know it is not you. 

This prevents identity theft because people cannot access your money until they unlock your credit, which requires a PIN number and security questions. It prevents other people from making major purchases with your money. 

Credit card purchases can be challenged if you did not make them, but not debit card purchases because they have direct access to your bank account, so be sure to be extra careful with your debit card. 

Jury Duty

You will receive a summons for jury duty in the mail, which you need to bring with you to the courthouse to check in. It will tell you which courthouse and what day you are required to go, but you can go any day within two weeks of that date. Once there, you will go through security checks. 

It is also a good idea to bring something to do because you sit in a room for a potentially significant number of hours waiting to be called, of which there is no guarantee you will be.  If your name gets called you get pulled with others to a courtroom. They go through a process of jury selection and screening asking questions. The various lawyers can remove jurors if they think they cannot be fair and unbiased. If you are selected, you show back up for multiple days until you or the trial is done.


While knowing the basics of how things work, a lot of lessons can only be learned by experience. Therefore, CCHS adults have offered the best advice they would give to their 18 year-old self.

“Our lives are busy, our lives are full, as you become an adult, don’t forget to nurture all parts of your soul. Have fun with your friends and welcome those that are different than you. Be curious intellectually. Keep your heart healthy by setting goals for fitness. Stay healthy emotionally by remembering to take care of yourself and have healthy boundaries. Spiritually feed your soul by finding time for silence and prayer.” -Mrs. Sandy Blackstone Gardner

“Sometimes there will be moments when nothing is going like you had planned. But one day you will look back and realize those moments were part of a bigger plan than yours.” -Mrs. Kristine Bacich

“Please, focus on school and not on the parties! It is not important, and it is better to have a few good friends than to have a lot of fake friends.”-Señora Esther Stephenson 

“Have fun, but be careful. Consequences are real, and you are not special or immune from them.”-Mr. Danny Collins

“Believe in your own ideas and follow your dreams. Do not let others sway you away from what makes you happiest.”-Ms. Marianne Goyette 

“Go with your gut feelings! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is what you make it. You are now responsible for you.” -Mrs. Cindy Moses

“Know that God has a plan for you, and you’re always in the right place at the right time. God wants you to be an active participant in your life; there’s no need to wait to become smarter, stronger, more courageous, wealthier, prettier, more mature, etc. You will make mistakes and learn along the way, but you are enough right now to live the great life God has created you to live. So go live it!”-Mr. Kevin Wenclewicz

“You do not have to have everything figured out! You will have so many more experiences that shape how you think and who you are. Be open to that change!”-Ms. Emily Cullen

“Don’t spend so much time worrying about what other people think about you.  Love yourself! And the people who matter will love you just the way you are!”-Miss Katie Wilson

“Open your mind and listen to what others have to share. If you want light, be light. If you want something, make it happen because you are your own limit. You can really do it!”-Ms. Kiera Bocchino 

“Reach out to grandparents and the elderly in your life. You’ll feel good that you made the effort when they’re no longer around.”-Mr. Greg Bobrinskoy

“The “big” mistakes you may make are just one of the many tiny, tiny parts of growing up.”-Mrs. Rosalie Dembowski

“Do what is right before God and trust in His provision and timing. This way of living is how you will experience true freedom and peace.”-Mrs. Angela Chung

“Treat others the way you want to be treated (with kindness, respect, and common courtesy) and always seek first to understand the situation. Karma has a sense of humor and will surprise you when you least expect it .”-Mrs. Johnnie Voegtly

Always work on your relationship with God.  No matter where we are in life personally or professionally, always invite God into  the situation. As in Scripture, pray without ceasing. In happy times, thank God. In sad or lonely times, ask God to give you the strength and the courage to persevere.  In all times, praise God. God will give you what you need, but sometimes it will be different than what we want. God is the pilot of the plane of your life and you are the co-pilot.  Enjoy the trip! And God bless you always!”-Mrs. Carmen Lonergan