What is “Growing Up”?

As a recent high school graduate, a lot of images and thoughts whipped through my mind. From the moment I walked upto the stage to receive my diploma to the moment when I saw the celebratory cloud of graduation caps above me, all I could think of was, I can’t believe this is happening. Of course I couldn’t believe it; just a day ago I was walking around the high school as a fourteen-year old freshman trying to find her class.

Soon, most classmates who stood with me on that sunny day will be attending a college of their choice. I will be moving into New York University as a freshman this late August. So many things are changing around me without me noticing. The days are passing by without a moment’s pause. Friends are finding out their roommates and emailing them. Today, I’m even going dorm shopping. I mean, I am excited, but at the same time, I want everything to stop. I want to slow down and enjoy the moment, but I know I might be a little less than helpless when it comes to stopping time. I accepted long ago that time is a force that keeps rolling like an endless silent film.

As I am writing this post, I keep pausing and thinking, typing and stopping. I’m trying to see if I can evaluate myself and notice the changes that happened in my life. From the drastic ones to the smallest events that occurred so far, they all had some kind of an impact in building my personality and character. I am who I am because of the things that happened in my life and the decisions that I have made.

The thing about growing up is that it is so difficult to comprehend, explain, and define. A year ago, if someone had told me that I have grown up, I would have agreed with her/him. But now that I look at it, I only knew the definition of growing up that the world wanted me to know.

To the world, growing up means losing your childish interests and becoming more mature. To the world, growing up means reaching a certain age and cleaning up your acts. To the world, growing up means choosing a single path where you can push yourself to your limit so that you can taste the success.

For me, “growing up” means the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. It is quite cliche, but that is how I see it. It is only a process of realizing that I have learned enough to move onto the next stage in my life. There is no time limit because I set my own goals and destinations, and I don’t give myself the pressure to make deadlines. There is no such thing as “oh, time’s up! I better find a serious career now because I just turned 25!” Just because I graduated high school does not mean that I am going to stop listening to Disney soundtracks and watching the Toy Story trilogy (all in one night, if that’s possible). If you love making music because you were in a high school band ten years ago, then why stop doing what you still love to do?

I know that it is hard to not let the world define who you are and what your age is. But it’s better late than never. When was the last time that you did something so immature that you laughed your butt off at your own actions or words? When was the last time you watched Cinderella from start to end? This is when I like to tell the world to leave me alone for a few minutes so I can tune everything out. I don’t need people to knock on my doors every single day of my life.

We can’t stop time, that is a well established fact. But we do have control over what we do with time. It’s also hard to do everything that you want to do, but even if you can’t fulfill every single one of your needs, taking it one at a time will still make you happy. At least you scratched off one thing off your list!

Even as I grow up, I know there still will be a little girl holding her stuffed animal waiting for her parents to read her a bedtime story. Maybe we never truly grow up.

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