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It's Our Turn: Life in the backseat

After Paige Habberstad passed her driver's test Monday, her family, including parents, Reggie and Pamela, brother, Karsten, and her sister and author, Alexis, got together for a celebratory lunch. (Contributed)

For those of you who aren't familiar with my role at the paper, most easily put I'm the kid in the office. I am a second-year summer intern of the Echo Press and just graduated from high school a little over a month ago.

At home, my role is reversed, as I'm the oldest of three kids. My younger brother, Karsten, is just entering middle school at 12 years old and my sister, Paige, will be a sophomore in high school and just turned 16. That makes my sister just about the right age for the most anticipated milestone of the teenage years — getting that coveted driver's license.

On Monday morning of this week, the day she hadn't shut up about since she was 10, finally arrived and she passed her driver's test with flying colors. Since I had agreed the week before to let her use my car for the test, my little sister was instructed to use her newfound freedom to pick me up from work later that day. Sure enough, when four o'clock rolled around she was waiting outside practically vibrating with excitement with her best friend in tow in the passenger seat. As you might imagine, riding in the backseat of my own car was a relatively new phenomenon for me. After carefully checking her mirrors, my freshly-licensed sibling slowly pulled away from the curb.

I had ridden with my sister countless times before when she was still using a learner's permit. Before this afternoon I had always considered her to be a pretty good driver — she's even more of a perfectionist than myself, and is occasionally even overly cautious (AKA a grandma) when it comes to getting behind the wheel. But what I soon realized in the back seat of my car as the pavement started to move underneath us was that I was completely and utterly terrified. It's not that I didn't trust her in all of her eagerness. What left me debilitated with fear was the fact that I wasn't in control of the situation. The wheel that my sister had her hands positioned at 10-and-2 wasn't in my own grasp. Life was moving all around me, and I was just along for the ride.

If I'm being completely transparent with you, that car ride in all of its terror (sorry Paige) felt a lot like my life has lately.

To say I'm not the biggest fan of change would be a major and complete understatement. And as it turns out, "change" is just about synonymous with "college." In a little more than a month, I will be leaving everything that is familiar to me about 106 miles behind to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and study professional writing. My high school boyfriend (and best friend) of two years is chasing his own creative dreams to a school four hours south of me. My family will continue to live their lives as usual, my friends will be going in their own directions, and the sun will rise and set over the only city I've ever known — regardless of how I feel about it. The rug of familiarity is being pulled out from beneath me and suddenly my life is the pavement moving beneath the moving vehicle and I'm just strapped in the backseat hanging on for dear life.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited for college. I'm ready to dip that toe in the water and try my hand at life outside the nest. I'm ready to start figuring this whole "adult" thing out. But damn, is that scary.

Remember that terrifying car ride I mentioned earlier? Well, I may have been scared out of my wits, but I survived. I lived to see another day.

And one thing I learned from that ride? It was a lot less terrifying when I took a deep breath, looked out the window, and tried to enjoy the view.

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It's Our Turn is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.