So Close - ramblings on life, the future, and how I'm feeling about it all

An Essay By little woman // 3/15/2014

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.

Comments

I understand this!! I'm

I understand this!! I'm feeling the same way. I had the realization yesterday that this will be my last summer in highschool and I have to apply to colleges in the fall, and that is both thrilling and TERRIFYING.

Erin | Tue, 03/18/2014

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I admire your reflections and

I admire your reflections and honesty. Growing up is strange and complicated. On a literary level, I wonder if this piece ever had paragraphs--it would be easier to read and understand that way.

Julie | Sat, 03/22/2014

Formerly Kestrel

:)

Erin - Right?!? Also, I'm sure you've heard this already, but start working on your college application essays during the summer, if you can, some of them can be quite overwhelming (One college I applied to asked for 7 essays, I almost died) and that way at least you don't have to worry about doing homework done at the same time :P

Kestrel - Thank you! Because I wrote it as a ramble, and only did cursory edits to maintain the integrity of the ramble-ness, it hasn't had paragraphs. I did consider adding them for the sake of readability, but I honestly couldn't decide where to break it up, as the throught-process doesn't have many clear breaks. Would you have any suggestions for me as to how I could make it work?

little woman | Fri, 03/28/2014

The most astonishing thing about miracles is that they happen.
-G. K. Chesterton

:)

I appreciate you posting this :) Life? Hmm, life is so tricky, isn't it? But so exciting at the same time. I've been feeling lately that...this is it. At fifteen (and a half) this is it. My time to grow. I'm bordering on that edge of decision making but still not making decisions...do you get me? It's my time to decide who I am, not for anyone else.
Now, before I take up a whole comment on me, (I should go and write my own ramble) I really want to wish you all the best of luck in finding college and making the right decisions.

I really liked this particular question: "... and it’s made me wonder, what is grown up?"

Yes! And I want to be that mature adult, but never forget what it was like to be a young person.

Good luck in everything!

Maddi | Sat, 04/05/2014

Goodbye? Oh no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – Winnie The Pooh

I loved this!

I used to feel 'stuck in the middle'. Once in a while, even at 26, I still do.

It's scary to not know who you are but I love how you decided to submit to that lack of control. This brought me right back to old feelings before college - that pull that I couldn't resist. I hope your first semester has been fruitful and beautiful, and that you're finding new companionship and new ways of being that you like.
I also love how you never want to forget what it feels like to be a child, but you want to grow fully into your adult self, too - while playing along the way! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

"One can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once." L. M. Montgomery

Sarah Bethany | Sat, 12/13/2014

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