Growing Up

In less than a week, I’ll be seventeen.

I’ve always been independent. As a toddler, I played with my toys alone. In middle school, books came before drama and socializing. Even now, in high school, I like to keep a part of myself closed off from others – not because I’m a misanthrope, but because I have no friends there are things that I’m not quite comfortable sharing. I’m sure everyone knows how that feels.

But in the past couple of years, I’ve opened up a lot. To the readers of this blog, to my close friends in real life, and even to myself, to an extent. A lot has happened this year, especially, that has forced me to reevaluate my perspective of people and of life.

And right when I’m reaching a steady spot, things change. In two years, I’ll be an adult. I’ll have to leave behind many of my friends and my family as I go to college. I’ll possess more responsibilities than I do now, and I won’t come across second chances as often. People’s expectations of me will be enhanced; it will no longer be “wow, look at this guy, he writes so well for someone in high school!” – but a constant battle to better myself and my control and mastery of language.

I want to say that I’m worried, that I’m scared, or that I wish I could stay young. But I would be lying. I know how people cling to their youth, clutching in their hands and their minds the thought of remaining free from responsibility forever. Truthfully, though, I’ve waited for this for so long – for the freedom that that responsibility comes with.

In a myriad of my past posts, I’ve ended on a hopeful note, focusing on the future and the opportunities it would allow me. Now, that future is so close. I’ll be able to study what I want to study at college, to travel the tracks that I choose, and expand my horizons by meeting new people and ridding myself of old ones. It’s like a dream come true, a life I would love to live, and it’s only getting closer.

Some see birthdays as reminders of their waning youth. Some view birthdays as a time for partying and gifts. This upcoming Friday, my birthday will serve as a mark of how far I’ve come, and how much further I’m going to go.

Just felt the urge to write something on this beautiful Saturday spent indoors doing homework – I would love to hear other people’s thoughts about growing up and getting older. For those who are older than me, do you remember how you felt about growing up when you were my age? Perhaps in twenty or thirty years I will look back at this post and think to myself “wow, what an idiot… why did he ever want to grow up?”

Also, here’s my brief review of Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters on Goodreads. I feel like it would have been a waste to create a separate post for a review only a paragraph long. I’ll see you guys next time, and definitely in less than week – I’ll most likely post pictures of birthday gifts or something of the sort on Friday or at the latest Saturday. Until then, have a great rest of the week and read a book!

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Growing Up

  1. Chatter Master

    I still review my life at 17, 27, 37… Where was I? What did I think I would be doing in the future? I am happy to say that I still wonder what I will be doing in the future. And I look back at where I was, and am very glad for the aging process. Though I must admit that I have absolutely no idea how I can be a 48 year old adult when I still feel very similar to how I did at 17. I loved this post. What great things you have to ponder, and accomplish.

    • Maybe you already had the mentality of a 48 year old adult when you were 17, and thus you feel similar to how you did then. And I am glad that you are still pondering what is yet to occur. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. When I was younger I always wanted to be grown up. But when I turned 18 (im only one year older than you) I suddenly felt absolutely terrified of all the grown up decisions I was going to have to make. I suddenly feel thrust into a life I have no idea how to handle…. I have always been an independent person like you, but I am also extremely shy, and that makes me terrified of a lot of simple things that adults have to do…hopefully if I get into Uni *fingers crossed* that will really help.

    • I see what you mean, it’s sort of like how children always say that they want to be adults to that they can enjoy certain freedoms, but fail to realize the responsibilities that those freedoms entail. Not like you’re a child or anything, as you’re obviously aware of the transition, but yes, getting into Uni may help with becoming more of an adult and overcoming your shyness. Either way, I think just getting out and living life will aid you, as you seem very intelligent as it is. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Cathal

    Great post- but I’m actually pretty ambivelant about the whole idea of ‘growing up’ (I’m 21 btw). I feel like when people talk about this topic (and most other topics) they end up repeating the same old stories that exist in our culture that don’t really say anything about our experience: childhood as a time of inoocence, then an emergence into self through the teenage years into adulthood etc. I’ve never found these stories a helpful way of talking about myself- and I’m not suggesting that this is what you were doing in your post! Do you have any idea what I mean? I know I’m different to how I was four years ago when I was you age but that change was as a result of the experiences I had rather than the simple fact that I got older. On birthdays I’m always struck by a sense of feeling the exact same as I did yesterday. It’s all so arbitrary- especially when you turn 18 and suddenly you’re legally responsible for your own actions, as if on that day you have an epiphany of some sort and abruptly become a responsible adult!

    You definitely should not question your feelings about growing up- being a child and then a teenager sucks because people keep treating you in whatever way their particular culture feels such a person ought to be treated- and people express surprise when you don’t conform to their ideas of what you should be like at that particular age- ‘You’re so mature for your age!’ etc. Even if you do look back at what you wrote here in some years and disagree with yourself that doesn’t mean that the way you feel now is wrong or that you’re an idiot- what you’re feeling now is real and important and you should let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling.

    Part of why I feel the way i feel about aging is that I don’t depend on false (to my mind) dichotomies for a sense of self- child/adult, man/woman and so on. You should embrace what you’re feeling now- you’re clearly ready for the responsibility of self that comes with getting older.

    As I’ve met more people and learned more I’m sometimes amazed by the extent to which people will defend these stories- and the efforts they go through to cram their own rich and vital experience into these pre-existing structures. For me, part of the ‘maturing’ process is recognising these cultural narratives for what they are- stories we tell ourselves to make it all easier.

    Have you heard the word ‘teleology’ before? It has a lot of uses but we can use it here in relation to the whole growing up thing. It’s basically the idea that something is developing towards an inevitable point- and that this is the only way it could have gone. Basically what I deny is that the individual develops along a teleological route- from childhood through adoloescence into adulthood hitting certain developmental targets along the way.

    Wow- I am so sorry about the length of this comment and please don’t feel abliged to reply!

    • I agree about the predetermined age thing. While physically most of us develop at certain stages (like learning how to crawl at a certain age, learning how to walk at a certain age, etc.) emotionally it can differ tremendously from person to person. While one may generalize that an adult is more mature than a teenager, there are definitely some teens who possess the maturity of someone beyond their years or an adult that acts and thinks like a kid. Experience plays a prominent effect on these things, too, as simply from going to school I see people who are the same age yet have completely different mindsets.

      We learned about something similar to teleology in my psychology class. I agree with you that nothing is inevitable, especially not one’s destination in life – I feel that there are certain stages in one’s life, but those stages are not set in stone nor are they the same for everyone.

      Don’t apologize, I love reading and responding to thoughtful comments like yours! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Eugine

    I turned 18 two months ago, and I’ve been dreading that moment since my 17th birthday. I still live with my parents and will continue to do so for a while, so I didn’t have to worry about living independently. Plus, my parents let me roam freely so I never felt restricted in a way that made me think “Wait till I’m 18!”
    So, for me, becoming 18 meant added burdens and responsibilities rather than freedom. Freedom has its two sides, too, no? On the one hand, you’re “free” -literally or figuratively- on the other hand, because you’re free, you have to take on the responsibility for your choices and actions. The theory of that terrified me. The reality of it still hasn’t come yet, at least not for me.

    P.S.: To be honest, I’d pegged you for older than 16 đŸ˜‰

    • Yeah, what one has experienced as a teenager definitely plays a part in whether they are looking forward to turning 18 or not. Like the above commenter said, not everyone really experiences an epiphany of some sort when they turn 18 that magically transforms them into an adult. You’ll feel comfortable as you are eventually if you are not already!

      Ha, well, thank you for reading and commenting Eugine!

  5. I’m also a year older that you,Thomas, and in a few months I’ll be officially an adult and I’ve already thought of all the responsibilities I’ll have to shoulder, to be honest I’m a little scared but one thing I’ve come to learn is that sooner or later we all have to face our fears and I’d rather sooner.

    I suppose most see our teenage years as learning about ourselves, our likes, dislikes, how we feel towards our peers,our parents, family and most importantly, ourselves. It’s during adulthood, with my new found independence I know that this is really the time I will find who I am, without my parents always there to tell me what to do.
    My toes are no longer just skimming but I’m now almost completely submerged in the world of adults and it’s seems as exciting as it’s scary, but I look forward for the challenge.

    Even when I hit 18 I’m still dependent on my parent not unlike my previous 17 years but that will gradually change. I have things about myself that I definitely need to improve on before they become a permanent part of my person and bad habits are stubborn stains, you’ve gotta keep at it.

    Growing up is a journey, an adventure, and we’re almost approaching our next leg I know I, and others, have to be brave and face it because weather or not we want to grow up, weather or not we want the responsibilities and all that comes along, it will come eventually and end could end up either of three ways, good, bad and in between, it depends on our mindset. Then again, for some, the growing up thing isn’t a big deal. There are kids who were forced by circumstance to become adults way before their time.

    This was long … Happy early birthday Thomas đŸ™‚ You sound like a young man who’s responsible, thoughtful, kind, academically brilliant and yes, socially awkward and with a boatload of your own troubles too, there’s always reason to worry but you’re smart and you’ll be awesome, well you’re awesome now, so you’ll be more awesome then đŸ˜›

    Devina

    • Yes, growing up is inevitable, and what you said about mindset is important – I know people who are so stuck up in their childish ways and adolescent habits that they fail to assume the responsibilities of an adult and thus damage those around them. It is really unfortunate, but I know you and others will not end up like that… even if you are not completely independent of your parents at this point, it’s good that you are working toward that.

      I also like how you pointed out that some are forced to grow up and become adults due to their circumstances – this is very true and something that I skipped over. It is sad, but something that some have to face. Those who do should be commended and praised for enduring the hardship that they did.

      Thank you for another amazing comment Devina! I noticed that you have also been busy with school and life lately, good luck with all of the challenges you are taking on!

  6. Cara

    Oh goodness I didn’t see this post till now! Well first off Happy Birthday Thomas (whether it was before or after today). I think that I felt kind of like you did. But I had this excitement and dread at the same time. I think it’s because I have awesome parents (I may be biased though) so I knew it would be hard for me to leave. And I’m gonna tell you the truth that I fumbled quite a bit but it’s fun too. Even now I still don’t feel like I haven’t really immersed myself into the adult world. I forget who commented above about this but I think they hit it right on. I do think there is not this timetable that society puts up. People mature and change at different rates and it’s unfair I think to apply this strict view on things for everyone. But alas that’s the way things are.
    Anywho I’m glad you’re excited about it Thomas:) It’s the best way to approach anything. With lots of enthusiasm and good humor:)

    • Thanks Cara! I suppose like with most things in life there are pros and cons when it comes to growing up – judging from what you’ve stated in previous comments, you seem to be doing well (I think you mentioned having pretty good grades). And of course your reviews on Goodreads are flourishing. Also, yes, Cathal did a fantastic job describing the faults of how society thinks that people mature at predetermined rates when they really do not.

      Yep, enthusiasm and good humor helps, as well as a reading a lot of great books! Thanks for reading and commenting Cara. (:

  7. Hey Thomas, I really liked this post! I can completely relate – I’ll be turning 17 in a month and a half, and “growing up” terrifies me. That’s actually why I created a bucket list, and subsequently my blog. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one (:

    • Ah, I see. It’s great that you’re utilizing your writing and your blog to get through your fear and the process of growing up. I will be reading your posts regularly!

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