Warrior Words: The very real struggle of an almost adult in the digital era

Today, I did something very adult-y. I went to the Apple Store all alone. I drove up to the Danbury Mall by myself, parked by myself, went inside by myself, checked in by myself, and waited for the Genius, all by myself. After checking in, like any modern-day person, I took out my phone and began to mindlessly scroll through social media to prevent any trace of boredom I might attain from standing in one particular spot waiting for help for a mere five minutes. And just like that, I wasn’t all by myself.

Finally, the Genius came over and asked me what the problem was. I felt like I was at the doctor: when she asks what the issue is, my first instinct is always to look at my mom. But my mom wasn’t there; only I was there. I had to look to myself, like I was my own mom. I began to talk, like any grown person should. I rambled on about how my phone doesn’t function properly, and then he asked to take it from me. Of course, I wanted to fix my phone so I said yes. I said yes to five whole minutes without my phone, all alone.

I scanned the store, desperately looking for entertainment. Every person there was either talking to someone else, or they had a blank stare aimed at a screen. So instead of being comfortable alone, I found a screen. It wasn’t so hard, considering it was the Apple Store. I went on an oversized Mac, and thoughtlessly clicked through a series of photos from somebody’s trip to the mountains. When I was finished, I fidgeted. I even took out my license and tried to memorize the number. I was so bored. Bored, for five whole, entire minutes.

When the Genius returned, he had my phone and placed it back in my hand. All that mattered was that my distracting device was back with me, and I no longer would need to look at random photos or memorize meaningless numbers, or attempt to stand still. His voice was muffled, and everything went right over my head. It was in my hands again, and available at my disposal. Nothing else was important.

What I didn’t realize at the time was he actually didn’t fix my phone; it still has the same issues. Even worse, I still have the same issue. I was born in 1999 — just a few short years before the technology boom. Although I was not given an iPhone at age seven or my very own MacBook at nine, the fact is, now I’m 17, and like everyone else, I can’t be alone. I always need someone, or something. As a person who’s trying to learn to function independently, and possibly move thousands of miles away from everything I’ve ever known in 10 or 11 short months, I sure do have a difficult time being comfortable with myself. I mean just myself, minus the Snapchats and group chats and the Instagram posts.

For my last year in Wilton, instead of sitting alone on my phone, I’m going to put that addicting piece of metal down and take in the town I’ve spent the past 11 years in. High school has gone by pretty fast, and I’ve missed a good chunk of it while trapped behind a screen. I’m almost a college kid; almost an almost adult. I need to learn to function on my own, and a key step to that is getting to know myself, minus the screen. I need to learn to go to the Apple Store myself, and stand still while I wait for the Genius to return. I can people watch, I can start up conversations with strangers, or even just be alone with my thoughts. Because my phone isn’t even fixed, I’ll be back at Apple within the next week — but this time, I’ll do it alone, and I mean totally alone.

Julia Foodman is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with four classmates.