Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

A coming of age story...
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When I was younger, I used to be so focused on becoming older. I used to ask my parents all the time at what age my voice would deepen or when I would get big muscles. I would dream about what college I would go to, and which team was going to select me in the NFL Draft. I always have been and always will be a dreamer.

Despite this, even in the moment, I knew I was blessed for the childhood and upbringing I had. I grew up on a street with a large group of neighborhood boys, all my age. These guys would later grow up to become my brothers. Guys that have seen me at my best and at my worst, and friends I have had the greatest memories in the world with. I started a band with them, we played in the woods together, we made movies, played video games, had sleepovers and shared everything with each other. To this day, I smile when I think of those days, to have had a friendship so pure and so real as the kind I had with the gang on 16 Street.

Once we hit middle school, we started to grow up fast. I remember when the topics changed from which Star Wars character we liked the most to which girl at school we thought was the hottest! I remember feeling so grown up when we would ride our bikes 2 or 3 miles to the mall together, and that feeling being amplified when we could drive across the state together. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. What we looked like and what we were interested in certainly changed over the years, but the bond was constant.

After I graduated high school (I was the second oldest in our group), I went off to college out of state. I was to embark upon a life changing journey that would shape me into the man that I am today. My friends all knew that this was something I had dreamed about since I was young, and supported me 100 percent. And so I left the neighborhood, returning 5 months later to find it exactly the same as I had left it. Or was it?

When I came home, my room was still a mess, my family still loved me the same and my dog was still stinky. Driving to my friends’ houses felt familiar and so did embracing them, but something was… off. They seemed like the same guys I remembered, but for some reason I just wasn’t having as much fun as I used to around them. Each time I would return home for Christmas or Summer Break, this empty feeling in my stomach would grow. And each time I would reunite with my friends that I had been friends with since we were about 9, I would come home with a sour taste in my mouth.

It’s taken me almost two years since I left home for the first time to realize why this is; I’ve outgrown my childhood completely. I’ve had so many new life experiences outside of my city, and going back to it just isn’t the same. There is nothing wrong with my friends, and I still love them, but I just know that it’ll never be the way that it used to be. Sure, I remain pretty close with a few of them, but the gang that I grew up with is gone. I thank God for them and for the experiences I’ve had with them and wouldn’t trade them for the world. But it's time for me to move on.

My experience is by no means unique. I would say that the great majority of students who go off to college and come back would have a similar story. At the end of spring semester, we’re happy to come home, but by August, we can’t wait to go back to the place where we feel we truly belong. Growing up is not something that happens all of a sudden. It’s not like you’ll go to bed and wake up with facial hair and a deep voice (I legitimately thought this), but instead it surprises you. One day you’ll realize that the last few years have flown by pretty quick. So best to enjoy the ride, laugh, cry, eat, drink and find pleasure in the people you do all of these things with. Pretty soon, we’ll be getting married, starting families, getting real world jobs and having to adult, so live up these wonderful adventures you find yourself on. After all, you’re only young once...
Cover Image Credit: Eli Forbes

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Turning 'I'm Sorry' Into 'Thank You'

A process of self-awareness I think everyone should consider.

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My entire life I've been apologetic.

I use apologies far too often in my daily life. Whether it be to someone holding the door for me even though I'm still ten feet from the door or my interrupting the custodian cleaning my hall's bathroom. From stepping on my friend's toes to bumping into someone in line at Starbucks.

I think as children, we are taught that apologizing for our actions wipes away the consequences from those actions. In past relationships, I have relied on apologies to make myself feel better about how I've made others feel instead of actually using them to improve my actions.

For me, it has just become something ingrained in my personality. I've noticed that it has become a reflex rather than a conscious response. What I've realized recently is that this is something I can change.

Apologies are helpful when mending hurtful or accidental situations, especially when you find yourself in the wrong, but not everything deserves an, "I'm sorry," and using that phrase for every accidental encounter or mistake, in my eyes, lessens its impact.

If we all use, "I'm sorry," for every minor inconvenience we cause, the words become less meaningful.

I have read about this online a lot lately, and it is suggested that instead of apologizing, we should give thanks.

If I'm late for a date with my friends, the old me would've said, "I'm SO sorry, guys!" But the new me will say, "Thank you for waiting for me."

Instead of apologizing to our (wonderful) custodians, I'll say, "Thank you so much for the work you do here every day."

If someone is kind enough to hold the door for me, even though I'm nowhere near it, I won't apologize for inconveniencing them. Instead, I will take the time to appreciate the fact that they were kind enough to do so, despite my distance from the door.

I think that this is a process everyone can benefit from, so long as they are willing to be conscious of their thoughts and the words they speak. By replacing, "I'm sorry," with an expression of gratitude, we can develop a more positive mindset and reserve apologies for situations that deserve them.

We can also use those rare apologies to remind us to improve our actions; if we hurt someone, we don't get to decide that we didn't or invalidate their feelings. We can then meaningfully apologize and allow it to inherently change our behavior.


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