My sister and I were obsessed with the Disney film Peter Pan while growing up. We agreed that like Peter we weren’t going to grow up. We weren’t going to grow old, have responsibilities, get married, have jobs... nada. No, we were going to stay young and live our fun, carefree, adventurous lives for forever. We were determined to remain free like Peter and ideally, we hoped to someday even live with him in Neverland and fly. (Naturally, right?)
In our opinions, staying a kid sounded much more fun and thus a better idea than the boring and upending reality of adulthood.
Well, many years later, I don’t seem to have drifted far from my childhood thoughts because this desire to remain young seems to continually and randomly make resurgences into my heart.
So... here is my confession folks:
I am still afraid of growing up.
Am I embarrassed by this fact? Well, no... I believe that it’s common for college students nearing graduation to wrestle with and even fear the upcoming reality of actual adulthood. As for myself, I am no exception. The reality of growing up has dawned on me time and time again, especially during this past year as I near the end of college.
The other night as I was falling asleep, the fact of being done with school hit me again like a tank engine. I had tears pooling in my eyes as I fell asleep with a tight throat. The next morning I started to question why I felt this way, of why I was feeling these intense bursts of sadness. As I was reflecting a few things came to mind as I realized why I seem to grieve growing up especially right now. What follows are three honest reasons (and fears) of why I’m sad to be done with school.
The first reason:
And finally (perhaps my favorite thing about being a kid):
My childhood has guaranteed nearly constant community. I love being around my friends and surrounded by people who are excited about life! I have been fortunate enough to be able to surround myself with souls who I admire. And boy, am I ever going to miss being around my circles of friends and peers. We have worked and looked forward to so much together. I fear I’ll lose and miss community in my adult years.
However, while I voice these fears and say that I’m afraid to grow up, I also realize that growing up is a stupid thing to be afraid of, because all people must grow up at some point or another. Adulthood will be great too - it’s a new and exciting chapter after all, right? Yet, just like most transitions, I’m realizing that it is the transition into adulthood that may be tough.
We are all constantly growing though; are we not? We each have this innate goal to survive and thrive in life. And a life... well, growing old is an integral part of what a life entails. The many stages and chapters of one’s existence is what makes a beautiful and colorful life. I believe that it’s safe to say that the majority of humanity desires to live until they become old and grey, because that is what a life is - or is supposed to be - and the growing up part is just the initial chapter.
Yet, with that being said, I am afraid. Because the “growing up” part - the part that entailed wrestling with my siblings, sitting in a classroom and learning with my peers, being in environments that have stimulated and challenged me… it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve liked and looked forward to this “known”. And the unknown can be a scary place. Not that scary is bad, but it’s not always comfortable nor fun.
And thus, this fear is in direct relation for whatever comes next. What if I’m not good at whatever I choose to do? What if I don’t like it? What if I choose wrong and end up even hating what I do? Hating my everyday life?
The probable truth and thus rational fear of mine is that this reality will likely be the case for certain periods of my life in the years to come. I probably will work some jobs that I don’t enjoy and that don’t particularly fulfill me. And hence, this fear again is - What if I never find something that I love again? What if I never find something I like as much as school?
*Side-note: I’m beginning to realize that I’m a whole lot worse at major transitions and changes than I once thought I was. I used to believe that I was the queen of change, that I always thrived off of anything new and exciting. This is not a lie, it is still often the case. But I miscalculated some things when I initially made this judgement of myself. I now realize that it is with the things I truly love in this life - I cling to them with everything I have. The people I Iove so dearly. The places that have become an integral part of who I am. The experiences that have colored my identity. These things that I love so very very much... I’m terrible at letting them go when the time comes and moving on to the next chapter in life.
And this is why it’s so much easier being a kid in my opinion and why I don’t want to grow up. As a kid and student you have a certain path laid out ahead of you, just waiting for you to seize all of the opportunities placed in this path. Everything is placed directly at your fingertips and the world seems to exist in order to help you. To encourage you. To build you. To make you believe that you can do it.
The real world isn’t always so encouraging.
And then, all too quickly, school is over. The reality of impending college graduation creeps in and the imminent fact that I need to figure out my life path already takes priority in my mind. And of course, I realize that this pre-college path that led me to school continues to exist after college graduation. However, instead of a road leading straight to college, there now exists a fork in the road that appears to diverge into a gazillion different directions, just waiting for me and every student to pause and choose before we each carry on our merry ways through the rest of our fast paced lives.
The future comes knocking real fast. There are so many, too many, options - a beautiful and overwhelming fact that many people must face at some point, arguably multiple points - during their life.
For myself it’s the act of choosing that freaks me out. I am terrified I may choose wrong. But now I’m just repeating myself.
You can then beg to ask: well, is there a wrong choice? Or, is it all what you decide to make of it - and should you simply ask God to bless whatever you choose? Because God can use all circumstances for good, can He not?
Hmm. Thoughts to ponder.
Ok, I need to wrap things up before I start going in even more circles.
What can you take from this post you may be wondering?
Well, a few things.
As for myself, although I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never live in Neverland and stay young like Peter Pan, there is one thing I am determined to do as I enter “real” adulthood.
I am determined to maintain my kindred spirit and remain a kid at heart.
And as I enter my adulthood - a time that I’ve decided will entail me continuing to chase & discover my own dreams - let me tell ya:
I am determined to still fly.
currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she works remotely as a Policy and Communication Manager for the First Lady of North Dakota. Photography and writing are a passion that help her better appreciate the details of the world.