So Close - ramblings on life, the future, and how I'm feeling about it all
So close, to graduation, to my 18th birthday, to finally moving out and going to college and making my own choices; and I’m excited and terrified at the same time. I’m so ready, ready to be done with this last painful semester of high school, ready to go see and do and try new things, ready to learn that I can take care of myself, to some degree, ready to discover who I am, to continue discovering who I am, ready to maybe fall in love. And as I look through hundreds of old pictures, literally hundreds because as the first child my parents had little else to do but take picture of me doing cute things, right? I realize how old I am. How much I’ve grown. How far I’ve come. And it’s crazy, I remember the things happening in most of these pictures. I look at them and I remember how it felt to be 5 and 8 and 10. How has so much time passed? And I know that my life is so much shorter than so many others, that having lived for almost 18 years is many times less than having lived for 85 years, but this is my life, and it feels a bit like eternity to me, the best grasp of eternity I can have. Because I can’t fathom eternity, forget all the wonderful metaphors, all that I can really comprehend is what I know, and what I know is my life. So maybe eternity is a bit like being able to look back and be 5 again, just for a moment. And maybe eternity is this feeling of never being able to grow old, because even though I realize it will happen, it seems so distant that it might be almost impossible. And when I look at these pictures, and see how carefree I was, I wonder if I really want to grow up. I still believe in fairy tales, but differently than I used to. I’ve changed, grown, matured, but I’m still the same person, somewhere inside is the little girl who told her newborn sister that she would “always be with you”, somewhere inside is the little girl who would crawl on her daddy’s back for a ride. And that’s the other thing, looking at these pictures has really made me realize that my parents are growing old. I tend to forget, until someone’s back hurts or I catch sight of how many white hairs have taken the place of dark ones. And looking at these pictures, when we were all so young, and half of my family wasn’t even born, and back problems weren’t even something that was a remote possibility, this feeling of not really nostalgia, but a sort of joint fondness and sadness and joy comes over me, and I miss being little, I miss fitting so perfectly into my mother’s lap. I remember when I stopped being able to come up and lean on her, when I finally got to be where I am now, at the same 5’8” as her, and realizing that I was too big, that even though she had always said that I would never be too big for her lap, I was too big now. And I am, I’m too big. Too big to be content creating stories with my Barbies, too big to be irresponsible and have it not matter, too big to let my parents do all the thinking. I have to make my own choices, and I want to, I want to make my own successes and failures and learn and grow, but oh! it scares me, but at the same time it’s like a magnet, whether or not I want it I’m being pulled toward it. And I feel so inept sometimes, because yes, I am naïve, although less so than some people think, and no, I don’t know what I want to study, and no, I still haven’t decided between my two top college choices, and no, I’ve never been without my family for more than two weeks. And I told my mom a while back that I didn’t feel grown up yet, and she told me that sometimes she didn’t feel grown up yet either, and it’s made me wonder, what is grown up? Is it experience and confidence and responsibility? What distinguishes an adult and a 30 year old child? Because I want to be an adult someday, not the sort of adult that seems to have forgotten what it is to be young, or worse the adult who never manages to behave like an adult, but I want to not forget, to be able to look back at pictures and remember what it was like to be 17, the way I sometimes feel trapped, and the way I struggle with self-image and friendships and confidence and finding me. And I want to be able to look back, knowing that I’ve grown so much since I was 17. But I want to never stop being spontaneous and somewhat silly and that person who gets intense coffee cravings at 1 in the morning and has to be restrained by friends, because coffee late at night is not a good idea for her. I never want to stop laughing so hard that I stop breathing, because if you know me you know that this happens on a startlingly frequent basis. I never want to stop being me. But I don’t even know who ‘me’ is, half the time, I just feel so blown around, like I have no control, and maybe this is a good thing, because I need to learn how to let things be out of my control, I need to learn that control isn’t always possible. I need to learn how to trust myself, and how to be confident, because I’ve come so far but not far enough, and I need to learn how to do those things I hate but should do anyway, because isn’t that what maturity is, doing the right things even when you’d rather not? I think it’s part of maturity, anyway. This whole growing-up feeling is just so strange. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see a young woman, and it excites me, but gosh is it terrifying, since when did I stop being a girl and become a woman. And sometimes I look in the mirror and see the goofy small child I was and it’s all so confusing and sometimes I just see someone who’s in the middle somewhere, floating between womanhood and girlhood and I think this is mostly me, stuck in the middle of all this changing, and unable to do anything but keep my head above the craziness so that I can breathe. And that’s what I’ve been doing lately, focusing on breathing and trying to have fun. And praying, praying desperately, and trying to remember that God isn’t on my timetable, and even if it seems like He isn’t doing anything, I know He is, because He’s the one who’s holding me above the water in the first place, because goodness knows I can’t swim well on my own. And I can’t see what’s in my future, and I can’t comprehend all the changes I know must take place, so I’m just rambling here to my computer, trying to make sense of it, trying to keep breathing.