Between the ages of birth and Jr. High, I thought that surely high-schoolers were considered grown up by the definitions of society. So, I rumbled through my early years without a care in the world: staining dozens of shirts, going bankrupt on many a lemonade stand, having princess sleepovers twice a month, and not giving a care in the world to the rapidly approaching teenage years that were serenely sauntering to my doorstep. To me, that was adulthood, and adulthood might as well have been eons away.
Upon reaching high school, I realized that my 'youthfulness' of my actual 'youth' seemed to have attached itself to my buttocks, and was following me around, everywhere. I retracted my assumptions from the earlier years of my childhood that assumed adulthood happened in high school, and consequently deemed myself forever young, because surely, having a flamboyant "youth" attached to the seat of my pants would force my high school years to exist eternally. Those years would never end. They couldn't.
I suppose I shouldn't have blinked, though.
The next thing I knew, graduation was over, and college was knocking at my door, demanding tuition and hours of my time.
Freshman year was a nice rerun of the ever popular house game I played as a child. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed freshman year so much. The lot of us pretended to be grown up, and the grown ups weren't around to watch, so our pretending went unnoticed. Perhaps that's why we thought it was reality. Perhaps that's why we thought we were grown up then. No one was there to tell us otherwise.
In college, I'm supposed to be grown-up, I think. It's hard to be grown up, though, when you don't feel old enough to have a full time job, to be half-way through a degree, to be thinking about weddings, paying taxes, or attending bridal showers...
Perhaps it was being broken down in the middle of non-civilization with no-where to go, and no way to get there that got me to thinking about adulthood, and when one reaches it. I suppose, in that particular moment of distress, I just wanted to hear that everything would be okay--that no matter what happened, the Parents would figure everything out, no questions, troubles or tears. I waited for that comfort, but when it didn't come I realized, among other things, that I am much to old for that now.
I suppose the worst part about growing up isn't, in fact, the taxes, the jobs or even the sheer aging aspect of it; but rather, the realization that the grown ups around you, the ones you've looked to for answers throughout your childhood, don't actually have all the answers. Scarily enough, they are just exactly like you, taking in problems as they come, and trying their hardest to find the best solutions to the hardest of questions.
Everyone knows the common euphemism: "Ignorance is bliss."
I'm always skeptical about broad generalizations such as this. Of course ignorance isn't bliss as a law. Of course ignorance can be a detriment in many circumstances. However, I have learned that not only can ignorance be bliss, but sometimes it can help create it. This said 'ignorance' will often stem from a branch of youthfulness, and it can sometimes even produce buds of happiness. These buds of happiness don't have to be selfishly enjoyed by the youthful tree, either. The clouds can look down and see the beauty of the buds, the grass and dirt can breathe in the delightful scent of the buds, and the world seems to be a better place because those buds exist. And it all stems from said *ignorance.
Sitting in an Arby's for 6 hours in the middle of no where gave me a lot of time to think, a lot of time to stew, and a lot of time to be upset. In the middle of my disdain, however, a beautiful little girl, full of 9-year-old youthfulness approached my fuming self, wrapped her small arms around me, and asked me to play quarter-basketball with her. She made me smile for the first time in hours, and I even laughed a little as she complimented my quarter-spinning skills.
I have now contemplated retracting my "forever-young" promise to myself. I am considering letting myself grow up, and move on. Perhaps I am slightly tardy in this effort. Perhaps I should have done this years ago.
My reasoning? I've been young. I've lived my youthful days. I've scratched my knees, had dirt smudged all over my face, made lemonade stands, cried when I had to come inside because it was getting dark. I've wasted hours at the mall with friends from 8th grade English and 9th grade history. I've painted my face for football games. I've cried to my mom about boys. I've slept in until 2 just because I could. I've been youthful.
And if I haven't learned anything from that childhood, I've learned one thing. In life, you have to take turns.
And I've had my turn.
Maybe I am growing up, after all.
*This paragraph reminded me of this poem. One of my favorites.
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