For as long as I can remember, I've always been more mature for my age than others were. This isn't necessarily a bad thing until I forgot to enjoy being a kid. I was always the kid who kept you in check, who was bossy, who was no fun because she was too uptight. I was the kid who always felt out of place because her mind was more mature than her age let her be. I grew up fast because I wanted to. All I looked forward to as a kid was growing up and being independent, doing whatever it was that I wanted to do and to live amongst others who were just as mature as I was.

I was everyone's 'mom' as a child. Even in parent-teacher conferences, the teachers would tell my parents that I would "one day be a good mom" because of my "leadership" skills. They basically told my parents I was bossy and that I needed to let kids learn things for themselves. But as a kid, I didn't want my friends to have to learn the hard way. I wanted to prevent them from trouble. I wanted them to see what I saw and to know that the choices they made sometimes weren't the best ones. So, while everyone was busy living their life and enjoying their youth, I was the one who wanted to grow up quickly to avoid all of the nonsense.

I was the goody-two-shoes. I did most things the right way, got good grades, achieved goals, and wouldn't stop until I got to where I wanted. In some ways, this benefited me. And in other ways, it came back to bite me. Because I wasn't like most kids, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was made fun of, ostracized, and my lonesomeness advanced my maturity even more. If no one was going to be there for me, I had to learn to be there for myself. So, I became more mature.

Seeing it for what it is now, I realized I grew up too fast. I am growing up too fast. What I wish for my past self is for her to take it slow. I want her to enjoy things for what they are. I want her to know that she doesn't have to worry all the time, that she doesn't have to be so serious. I want her to know that she needs to take time for herself and enjoy life while she still can.
I cannot stress this enough – be young, don't stress so heavily on the future, and don't forget to enjoy life. After I graduated high school, I realized how fast life really does go. It has never moved this fast before and each year goes by faster and faster. I didn't listen to my elders when they said, "enjoy life while you still can."

And as I write this, I'm emotional. I'm emotional because I've thrown away many years of my life because I was focused on one thing and one thing only—college and a career. Sure, those are very important in setting up your life and helping you get a job, but it isn't the only important thing. You're important too. Because I was solely focused on college and career the entirety of my life, I forgot to do things for myself. I forgot to take care of my body. But more importantly, I forgot to take care of my mind. I've been so focused on feeling the need to achieve something, that I didn't remember to enjoy my summers instead of working. I was too busy taking life too seriously. I neglected the fact that I only have this one life to live and it can be taken away in a split second.

So, to whoever is reading this, I beg of you, no matter how old you are or how long you've forgotten to take care of yourself, please begin to enjoy life. Start now.

Although I was set to graduate from college early next year, I decided to stay my full senior year to take advantage of my youth and to take fewer credits each term to give my myself a break. All I've ever done in college was overwork myself, and it's time for a change. It's time for me to start thinking about me. It's time for me to take care of Ruby, to take care of her anxiety, her mind, her youth, her desires, her life.

So please, enjoy life for what it is. It's not always easy, but if you start really, truly taking advantage of your life and enjoying it, at least when you're older, you can say you've done everything you've ever wanted to do. As they say, you only regret the chances you didn't take!