Growing Up

May 21, 2008
By Melissa Coates, Commack, NY

Growing Up

As a child I would look forward to my birthdays; after all, along with obtaining a new digit came more responsibilities and privileges. However, ask any adult and the thought of an upcoming birthday makes them stressed out; after all, along with obtaining a new digit comes more responsibilities and wrinkles - after all that's why I have always thought adults dreaded their birthdays. I turned fifteen in March and I think I am getting a glimpse of why adults do not look forward to their birthdays. A new year filled with unknown prospects…could it be that most of us are scared of what the future holds?

Once I turned about ten, give or take, I was suddenly thrust into the "real" world. My childhood self had lived in a bubble, an environment that my family, friends and educators had created for me and my peers. That bubble was quickly stripped down as I learned what the world really did consist of. As a child I defined growing up as graduating from high school, getting married, having a career and having children. I never thought about what was between the lines, the little details that truly define growing up. Sure, I had heard of people doing drugs and drinking but it had never affected me before so I thought I wouldn't ever have to deal with these types of problems.

Thinking back to one of my biggest problems as an eight year old it probably would be what toy I wanted for my birthday or Christmas. Looking back on that I laugh, for that seems so trivial compared to the problems of the world that people are facing right now. Back then, AIDS was just a jumble of letters, starvation was what happened when one didn't eat enough for lunch, alcoholism was one of the longest words in the English language and global warming was what happened when it was summer. What I thought were hard decisions like who to sit next to on bus are nothing compared to what decisions people my age and even younger have to choose.

Each year as I blow out the candles on my birthday cake I know that while I'm "moving up in the world" and being taken more seriously, it is because I am expected to understand and accept issues that maybe I would rather not understand and rather not accept. Along with the fact of having to understand new issues, each time I blow out the candles, a part of the magic is gone. We all have that moment that defines when we were forced to grow up. Whether it was when we learned of the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny or whether it truly was a serious problem we can all probably name that one time when we suddenly grew up.

I feel like fifteen is some sort of milestone for me. It is sort of an awkward stage, when a person is not considered a kid anymore but they are not exactly considered as an adult yet. A person can still get away with ordering off the kid's menu and paying a child's price at the movies but at the same time there are adult issues that a fifteen year old is faced with. Each year as I get one year older there are issues and problems I learn about but each year I feel more prepared on how to handle them.

When the realization that I would be fifteen in a couple of months completely sank in, to me it sounded so…old. That may sound funny but I have always felt that eleven, twelve, thirteen and even fourteen sounded childlike and were all basically the same age split into three. Most of my childhood and the magic that goes along with it is going to be gone when I can finally say that I am fifteen. It will be gone - just a wistful memory that I would do anything to have back again.

Its ironic how when we're younger, we yearn to be older and when we're older we want to be younger. Perhaps if we just accept the age we are now instead of wishing for another age, there won't be any need to worry about what the future holds and what it will bring.

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This article has 1 comment.

jmkmets92 said...
on Aug. 19 2008 at 1:02 pm
very impressed at this piece of writing. deep thoughts were expressed vividly, and gives you a personal experience on the thought of "being old"

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