Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

Well I Guess This Is Growing Up

A coming of age story...

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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The Thank You My Dad Deserves

While our moms are always the heroes, our dads deserve some credit, too.

Dear Dad,

You’ve gone a really long time without being thanked. I'm not talking about thanks for things like opening the Gatorade bottle I couldn't or checking my tires when my car’s maintenance light is flashing, but rather the thanks I owe you for shaping me into the person I am today.

Thank you for teaching me what I deserve and for not letting me settle for anything less.

While the whole world was telling me I wasn’t good enough, you were there to tell me I was. Whether this was with boys, a friend, or anything else, you always built my confidence to a place I couldn’t build it to on my own. You showed me what my great qualities were and helped me feel unique. But most of all, you never let me settle for anything less than what I deserved, even when I wanted to. Without you, I wouldn’t be nearly as ambitious, outgoing or strong.

Thank you for giving me someone to make proud.

It’s hard to work hard when it’s just for myself, but so easy when it’s for you. All through school, nothing made me happier than getting a good grade back because I knew I got to come home and tell you. With everything I do, you give me a purpose.

SEE ALSO: 20 Things You Say When Calling Your Dad On The Phone

Thank you for showing me what selflessness looks like.

You are the prime example of what putting your family first looks like. If me wanting something means that you can’t get what you want, you’ll always sacrifice. From wearing the same t-shirts you’ve had since I was in elementary school so I could buy the new clothes I wanted, to not going out with your friends so you could come to my shows, you never made a decision without your family at the forefront of your mind. If there is one quality you have that I look up to you for the most, it’s your ability to completely put your needs aside and focus entirely on the wants of others.

Thank you for being the voice in the back of my head that shows me wrong from right.

Even though many of your dad-isms like “always wear a seatbelt” easily get old, whenever I’m in a situation and can’t decide if what I’m doing is right or wrong, I always can hear you in the back of my head pointing me in the right direction. While I may not boost your ego often enough by telling you you’re always right, you are.

Thank you for being real with me when nobody else will.

Being your child hasn’t always been full of happiness and encouragement, but that’s what makes you such an integral part of my life. Rather than sugarcoating things and always telling me I was the perfect child, you called me out when I was wrong. But what separates you from other dads is that instead of just knocking me down, you helped me improve. You helped me figure out my faults and stood by me every step of the way as I worked to fix them.

Most of all, thank you for showing me what a great man looks like.

I know that marriage may seem very far down the road, but I just want you to know that whoever the guy I marry is, I know he’ll be right because I have an amazing guy to compare him to. I know you’re not perfect (nobody is), but you’ve raised me in a such a way that I couldn’t imagine my kids being raised any differently. Finding a guy with your heart, drive, and generosity will be tough, but I know it will be worth it.

Dad, you’re more than just my parent, but my best friend. You’re there for me like nobody else is and I couldn’t imagine being where I am now without you.

Love you forever,

Your little girl

Cover Image Credit: Caity Callan

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3 Reasons To Cut That Bad Friend Off

We all have that one friend who is generally bad for us.


We all have that one friend who is generally bad for us. It is perfectly okay to think about yourself and do what is right for you. It can be very toxic and unhealthy to constantly be around a bad influence in any kind of way. People always say they want to be financially secure or feeling secure with their significant other, but friendships also need security. Here are three reasons why that may not be the case.

1. They aren't supportive.


We all have that friend who generally does not care about what you say or do. You gotta be careful with that. Some people will act like they do, but behind closed doors with their other friends they don't. There are so many things to talk about with friends especially problems and issues within each other's personal life. If that person isn't making any attempt to show any kind of sympathy for you, they aren't the friend for you.

True friends are always behind your back in whatever you may be going through. Yes sometimes it can be hard because everyone has their own problems, but if you are willing to give and take it makes a good balance. What I mean by that is, giving each other space to breathe and reflect on things that are happening, then come together and talk about it with one another.

2. Too clingy or needy.


Another part in having not so good friends is if the person is too close to where they don't give you any space to get yourself together. The person who is clingy may have personal things going on in their life to make them like that and that is okay. But it can become unhealthy if the problems start becoming your problems and it is taking over your life in a negative way. What I mean by that is if that person is acting a certain way towards you and you can't seem to enjoy life as much sometimes to where you actually feel miserable, that is unhealthy. For example, jealousy. There are some friends who are very clingy because they are nosy and very jealous.

They don't take your kind friendship seriously because they are too busy secretly comparing their life to yours. There are some things in life that you can't control or help others with because it has to be handled a certain way. At the same time, you are still going through your own things and it can be draining to try and "fix" someone else when you have a lot on your plate as it is. Sometimes it is best to cut them off if they generally will not leave you alone or they are manipulating you in any kind of way from it. Sometimes doing that gives people a wake-up call of how they take their anger or problems out on others.

3. They talk about you behind your back.


To make this clear, everyone talks about everyone. There is nothing wrong with that. But there is a difference between generally talking about someone to inform someone about what is going on, expressing frustration and trying to resolve something by asking for advice, compared to actually bad mouthing about someone in a very rude and mean way. If the person is actually saying mean things about you, they aren't the friend for you. If they insult you in any kind of way (race, gender, outer appearance, personality, family or other friends), it is best to stop being friends with them. If they talk about you behind your back and plan anything to try and harm you or someone else, it is best to cut them off and also inform some type of authority.

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