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Getting Old

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The clock is ticking my life away quietly. I should be rushing, grasping, trying to make the most of the time I have left before it’s gone.
Instead, I’m watching it. Watching it swirl. Watching it disappear.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. Tomorrow, I turn twenty.
In my mind I am still fourteen, but that doesn’t count for anything. It’s just in my mind. And tomorrow, the word teen will be erased forever from my age.

Tomorrow I die. I die to the teenage world, the world of friends and secrets, of learning and decisions, of raw, earthy feeling, of fresh eagerness. I don’t want to cross the bridge from our world to theirs. I have nothing in common with adults. I don’t want to be one of them. I’m clawing on to these last precious seconds with all the strength I can muster, but they’re slipping, sliding, like fingernails dragging across a blackboard. I’m helpless. Tired. That’s what adults are. Tired. Nothing is new for them. There’s nothing to learn now. What you’ve built up in your youth is what you’ll have forevermore. If you didn’t do it then, you certainly won’t do it now. An old dog doesn’t learn new tricks.

They try to fool themselves with clever phrases like, “You’re only as young as you feel”.
But we, the young, know it’s not true. Feeling and mindsets have nothing to do with it. A grownup trying to act like a teenager is not young at heart, but sick. Repulsive. We try to be nice and not let it show, and make an effort to include them once in a while. But we share a secret world they shall never again be a part of, no matter how hard they try. It’s too late.

I won’t fool myself.
Adults aren’t accepted in our world, just as within moments I won’t be accepted in mine...theirs.

The adults look at me and inwardly they think, what an idiot. What wouldn’t I give to be her age right now. What an immature, over-dramatic moron. “Twenty, kid. You’re just turning twenty! You have your whole life ahead of you. You’re young!”

No. I’m twenty. And twenty is six years too old.

When I was fourteen, I felt old. But that was ok, because I knew I wasn’t. It’s all right to feel old when you’re young. You can get away with it, and those who truly are old will admire you for your maturity and the wisdom beyond your years. But what can you gain from feeling old when you are old? And if you feel young when you are old, you are merely shunned and laughed at. You’re pathetic.

I want to go back to thirteen or fourteen and stay there forever. I want to annoy the wise by asking endless, stupid questions, drinking in new, fascinating truths at every turn. I want to be amazed, be surprised, be awed by life. I want to swear eternal friendship with bloody aching thumbs. I want to go exploring in the woods and discover a secret, magical world where I can be a princess. I want to ring doorbells and take off running, collapsing in a laughing heap with my friends a few blocks away. I want to play pranks, and tease, and tag along, and be a nuisance. I want to giggle with girl-friends at sleepovers, wondering what it must feel like to be kissed. I want to sneak out of the house in the middle of the night, meet up with some friends, and run shivering and whining to the cemetary, just to say we’ve been. I want to be friends with a boy and not have to worry about making his girlfriend (or wife, now) jealous. I want to be able to wear what I want, without worrying about who is going to be looking at me. I want to hang out at the mall and do absolutely nothing for a whole afternoon. I want to dance barefoot in the rain to keep my heart from bursting with love and joy. I want pain to feel so raw and wrenching that I have to bleed just to know I’m alive.

I want to live, not function.

But it’s too late for me, now. My youth is gone. I threw it away by trying to hang on. It’s up to you now to be teens, to be kids, to be free.

All of you, whom I envy so much, will reach this day sooner or later. Believe me, it will be sooner. Don’t try to get ready for it. Don’t wish it away nor wish it close. No matter what you do or how you think, it will come. So just live your youth now, while you can. Soon it will be gone, and it will never, ever come back.

The clock strikes twelve.
Happy birthday, kid.



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IndiewriterThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm:
I can completely relate... on a smaller scale. When I turned 15 I freaked out because I felt like I haven't lived at all, and I was growing up so fast. Now I feel dumb for thinking that. I have 5 more years. "My youth is gone. I threw it away by trying to hang on". I love that line! I know one thing though, no matter how old you get, you'll always have writing right by your side. Especially you, considering you're an amazing writer! Never throw away that ability. --in... (more »)
 
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Snicker L. said...
Jul. 28, 2010 at 8:38 pm:

U have persuaded me to act my age and not grow up 2 fast. because i know at this rate, i am going to end up writing poems like this.

" If only, if only....."

 
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KirbyDoodle said...
Jul. 6, 2010 at 7:22 pm:
Maybe it wont be as bad as you think. Or maybe it will. You don't know yet.  Neither do we. But your writing shows that on this subject you dont have much hope. Just remeber that no one is suppose to be young forever.
 
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GlenBen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 5, 2010 at 8:44 pm:
This was really powerful.  You're a great writer.  Keep it up!
 
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