I’ve never wanted to grow up.
When I graduated from kindergarten, I cried. When I was in elementary school, I was convinced that I would have a chauffeur to drive me around all the time so I’d never have to learn how to drive. When I turned 20 this year, I had a panic attack because I’m not a teenager anymore, and 20-year-olds are adults. You can tack “young” onto “adult,” or reason that I’m still in college, still a dependent. But 20 isn’t a teenager anymore, and sounds a whole lot older than 19, and there’s no getting around that.
Growing up surrounded by the stress of a single parent trying to give her child every opportunity she could dream of while also trying to pay off huge amounts of debt does that to you. Convinces you that stress is part of adulthood, and that you never want to be there. Or, at least, did that to me.
Tonight, I signed my first apartment lease. With a roommate, paid for by our parents because we’re still full-time students. But it’s a lease, and it has my (electronic) signature on it.
I can’t help but marvel at how many years I’ve already spent on Earth. I know 20 isn’t old, but when you’ve never been older than a teenager, it sounds old. The age on my tongue feels older than I can possibly be. The signing makes me feel older than I can possibly be. And yet, here I am.
I’ve never wanted to grow up. But I finished crying and moved on to first grade. I turned fifteen and got my driver’s permit, sixteen and my license. I turned 20, and I accepted that I have to accept that I’m no longer a child. And it’s getting easier.
My therapist once told me that when we get to the point in life where we have to do “adult” things, we feel more ready than we do when we project years ahead. More ready to drive at fifteen than at ten. More ready to take on the next phase of life at 20, having been pushed across that boundary at the edge of one kind of childhood, than at 19 and a half.
We do what we have to do. And we have to grow up. Time doesn’t stop for anybody.
And then I think about the kids I used to volunteer with. The radiant joy that emanated from My Girls’ faces. The way they would run and fall and look at the dirt on their knees and grass stains on their elbows and run some more. And I want to be like them. And I question what it truly means to grow up. And I think that all it means is that you have to scroll farther and farther back when looking for your birth year. You mature, and you change your views and actions accordingly. But you don’t have to lose that joy, that persistence, that relentless throwing of yourself forward into the day without a second thought.
I sure hope I will learn to regain the pieces of those treasures that I’ve lost over the years.
I will regain the pieces of those treasures that I’ve lost. I refuse to let Time steal from me, and I refuse to let it terrify me, too. There’s too much ahead for that.
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