Slowly growing up

The other day my dad asked me how I was dealing with the fact that I was “growing up.” I didn’t know how to respond because I genuinely did not know how I felt about it. I didn’t know if I was happy or sad. I knew I wasn’t ready, but I don’t feel like I ever will be.

When you’re a little kid, the world seems so big that you start taking comfort in the small things in your life. Whether it was a raggedy blanket or small dinosaur figurines, we all have those childhood treasures. Mine were my birds. I had two lovebirds that lived in a big cylinder cage on the right corner of my kitchen. They would sit together on the same plastic tube and squeak and kiss. It was an awful noise that I would strangely long to hear every day when I got home from school.

I loved those two birds. When they died, I feared that it was my fault. I felt like I hadn’t taken care of them well enough. Like I wasn’t there for them the way I needed to be. Two little creatures like that need all the care and love they can get. That’s what it was like when I was a little kid. I had all the care and love from my parents. I never had to make any hard decisions on my own. They did it for me.

That’s what’s the scariest part of growing up is – having to do everything on your own. Your family, friends and mentors expect you to do everything right on the first try. There is pressure that you can’t escape from. As kids we always wish to be big and be able to drive or go out whenever we want, but we neglect all the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

We get so stuck in the idea of this perfect world where nothing ever goes wrong, that we don’t know how to deal with the “real world” – where we have to pay bills and struggle to make enough money to fund all the extra pairs of shoes and ice cream runs we make. We all want to achieve that perfect life and make ourselves and the people around us happy, but while we’re working hard for that, we leave behind our friends. We choose to study instead of go to a movie with our friends on Friday nights. We don’t give ourselves the time for free time, because we’re trying to grow up too fast.

After thinking about it for a bit, I answered my dad’s question. I told him that it wasn’t something I was necessarily dealing with. It was something I was letting come to me naturally. That I wasn’t freaking out, that growing up is part of life, and being scared about it will only make it all a lot harder. When the time comes, I’ll learn how to pay bills and manage my money. For now, I’m going to enjoy my childhood while I still have it. I work hard to become successful for the things I want in my future. But if my friends want to go to a movie with me on a Friday night, I never turn down the invitation.