What I've Outgrown

August 16, 2011
By Christine Zhao BRONZE, North Babylon, New York
Christine Zhao BRONZE, North Babylon, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

My sister Emily and I standing in front of our house, with her climbing a tree. My
friend Maegan and I sporting nametags and windswept hair. A group of us standing in a line
on the grass, laughing. My uncle and I on the beach, our ankles buried in wet sand. Three of
us girls in party dresses, posing for the camera. All of these are snapshots of the past. They
are memories frozen and preserved by chemicals on glossy paper, reminding the viewer of
the things that have passed. My computer’s hard drive holds even more photos, thousands of
digitally captured remnants of a moment that seemed important enough to trap with a click of
the camera.
Collecting pictures for the yearbook has shown me how much has truly changed. I
have found that throughout my life so far, things have changed as quickly as a child’s body
does during puberty. The evidence can be seen simply by walking down the hallway. The
boy who cried all the time in elementary school is now over six feet tall and captain of the
football team. The girl who wore giant sweatshirts and boys’ pants has become the prom
queen. The most popular kid in fifth grade has become a whispered name, with everyone
asking, “Whatever happened to…?” These people I shared my animal crackers with during
snack time have become strangers to me.
I sifted through the boxes of old memories with wonder. I constantly marvel at the
power that remembering something, or someone, can hold over a mind. As I dug through the
contents of my drawers, I found a folder of notes written to me by my friend who passed
away. The nostalgia that wound itself around my heart felt like a rubber band worn too long
on a wrist. It unlocked a floodgate of sudden realizations, like blood rushing back into numb
fingers. I thought of all the people who had gathered at this friend’s wake, putting their
differences aside to mourn together. We had held hands around a candle lit in her memory,
our eyes closed so that we might witness a miracle. For an instant, we were connected by our
Despite the fleeting melding of sad souls, I have since grown apart from many of
those individuals. I still see them everyday—a small school means there is no avoiding
anyone. Sometimes we smile at one another, a half-hearted acknowledgment of our
familiarity. It is exceedingly strange to think that our amity has been reduced to a brief
greeting. Some of the people who now pass by without a second glance are the same people
who I stayed on the phone with for hours. We knew everything about each other, and there
are so many documents that can testify to what once was.
Even my closet door is a canvas of forgotten names. There are at six or seven
handprints of my dearest friends at the time. They have outgrown their handprints, and our
friendship. The drawings that are strewn across the door are relics of the recent past. They
exist only in the world of memories, floating in the evanescent abyss that runs on the
enigmatic time zone of teenagers.
When I was young, even a single minute could feel like forever. The impatience of
childhood made me believe in the ever after promised to me by fairytales. Suddenly, I am
seventeen and time is moving too fast. All around me there are things, people, and even
places that I have outgrown—boxes of clothes I no longer fit into, people I no longer hang
out with, places I no longer go to. The tree that my sister climbed is no longer there. Maegan
and I still talk, but we have not been close for years. The group of us standing in a line have
since grown up and gone our separate ways. The sand that my uncle and I trapped our feet
beneath is eroding. The girls in party dresses are only acquaintances now. Human beings are
changing organisms. We are bound to outgrow things, but when we do new things take their
places. Today, there are flowers where the tree once stood, I have grown closer to other
people, and we go to a different beach. One day, the present may become another box of
memories. In the mean time, it fits just fine.

The author's comments:
Essay Topic: The late-eighteenth-century popular philosopher and cultural critic George Lichtenberg wrote, "Just as we outgrow a pair of trousers, we outgrow acquaintances, libraries, principles, etc. . . . at times before they're worn out and at times - and this is worst of all - before we have new ones." Write an essay about something you have outgrown, perhaps before you had a replacement - a friend, a political philosophy, a favorite author, or anything that has had an influence on you. What, if anything, has taken its place?

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This article has 1 comment.

Takumi said...
on Aug. 27 2011 at 1:30 pm
amazing essay. made me reminice about my past years. i am also 17 and growing fast. enought said about myself, the essay was brilliant. It shouldnt be called an essay.. It should be called a self narrative. 

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