The Summer I Grew Up

The Summer I Grew Up

Living with your eyes open.

You don't realize how fast life is going until you really look into how much time has passed between each memory. I think about when I was sitting in the car as my mom drove me around because I didn't have a license. It feels like that was simultaneously yesterday and a lifetime ago.

There was a time when you worried about getting up early enough so you don’t miss the school bus and about what you’re going to wear for Halloween. Problems were so simple and you had time to worry about them. Now it seems we move so fast that you have to have all of the solutions in place before the problem occurs. “I have to have a minor in case my major isn’t good enough.”

The summer between freshman year of college and sophomore year is where I’ve done the most growing up. Obviously once you leave home and you have to fend for yourself (for the most part), you start to grow as an individual. However I’m not talking about individuality or relying on yourself, but growing up in the context of perception. I now see that time is precious and every minute has to be taken advantage of - and in this I have found a way to make an experience out of everything.

Sunsets used to just happen every single day; that is all that they meant to me. It signified the end of my day as I worried about how my mascara was running out. I remember looking out of the window on a car ride and noticing the sky looked pretty, but then I had to choose the next song to come on. I went to school in Manhattan freshman year and this is when I realized how much they mean to me. I couldn’t see the sunset from my apartment and there was nowhere nearby to fully enjoy the sunset in its entirety because buildings were always in the way. Like they say “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Now I go outside every day and I sit behind my shed and watch the sunset. I have come to realize that every sunset is a new experience; some more marvelous than others but they never fail to empty my mind and make me feel better.

Everything about our generation is planned. It’s so important to find time for yourself and appreciate the life you have, the people you get to love and the beauty. Beauty being in whatever you want that to be: the windows down as you drive on an empty road with music blasting, the feel of your favorite blanket, the smiles on your friends' faces because you said something witty, the silence, or the sunset.

I've been alive for 19 years now, but I feel as if I have been living with my eyes half shut. I realize now there is no such thing as wasted time or need for regret. This is what living is and the sooner that's realized, the better. The best moments are unexpected and time is fleeting. Make sure to catch those moments before you realize they're gone.

“Forever is composed of nows.” - Emily Dickinson

Cover Image Credit: Emma Korpics

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Change Starts With Letting Go Of What Doesn't Serve You

Why do we feel the need to stay bound to things that aren't bettering us?

I am someone who is not big on change. I like having a routine to my everyday life and I won't venture far from that. As a college student, this is rough because things are changing, truly, all the time. Your class schedule changes every semester. Your living arrangements change every year. Your friend group shifts according to what clubs and extracurriculars you're involved in. Everything around you is constantly evolving. Some people are all about the ever-changing lifestyle, and I envy those who are able to roll with the punches and enjoy the constant commotion that comes with adult-life.

I wish it was that easy for me.

Since graduating high school, I find myself constantly overwhelmed with the little challenges and annoyances that pop up, and then pile up. Sometimes it feels like it's one major problem after another, and that it's never going to stop. After many sob-filled phone calls with my mom, it's becoming clearer to me that the challenges and annoyances are never going to stop coming. Life is never going to get easier than it is. Be the kind of person who doesn't fear all that's coming, but sees the changes as an opportunity to grow as a person.

I'm beginning to realize that, essentially, everything is temporary. Our jobs, relationships, homes, and feelings are not going to be the same for the entire duration of our lives. So why spend so much time worrying about the inevitability of change? It's imperative to learn to embrace the constant flow of life and use it to your advantage. All of these experiences are molding you into the person you're supposed to be. It's so easy to hold onto things you've been close to for a long time, and it's extremely hard to say goodbye to them. Especially if you're someone who values routine and structure.

As I step into my big girl panties and claim the title of a "young adult," I'm coming to terms with the fact that people come and go, and things are bound to change. At some point, I think everyone needs to learn that it's okay to let go of things that no longer serve you. It's okay to walk away from situations that don't make you a better person. It's okay to let go of people who make you feel less than your worth. Why do we feel the need to stay bound to things that aren't bettering us?

Instead of packing your plate full of things that drag you down, free yourself. Find what gives you purpose and don't let any outer negative factors weigh in on what you make of yourself. Accept everything that comes towards you with open arms and never let certain things hold you back from whatever makes you happy.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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What I Wouldn't Wish On My Worst Enemy

Karma is a fundamental concept of Buddhism, but compassion and understanding are the fundamental concepts for a long and happy life.

I am a practicing Buddhist. Yes, I'm that annoying person whose house always smells like those stores in the mall that sell swords, hoodies that look hand-woven but probably aren't, and hemp jewelry. Why would a white American college student practice Buddhism? Simple: the teachings of the Buddha have helped me overcome some of the greatest struggles I've ever had to endure. Keeping those teachings in mind has aided me in my efforts to manage my PTSD, keep a level head when my job at a fast food place makes me want to tear my hair out, and most importantly, it has helped me forgive those who have wronged me.

There is a central concept of Buddhism that everyone is familiar with, and that is the concept of karma; good karma, bad karma, everyone has heard of it. At least in the Buddhist tradition that I practice, intentional decisions we make will impact our cycle of rebirth. I believe this to be true. However, I don't like karma. More specifically, I don't like bad karma. I believe it exists, just as good karma does, but I do not agree with it. My reasoning?

My high school bullies.

I was bullied all throughout my childhood and adolescence to the point where I was suicidal at times. Recent events, namely, the shooting in Parkland have made me think deeply about my high school experience. Once a school shooting occurs, fingers are pointed in all sorts of directions to try and find a reason why such a tragedy would occur. Gun control, mental illness, and bullying are all topics of debate. I am of the belief that it is ease of access to firearms that contributes the most to these tragedies, but that is not what this piece is about.

My mom never kept guns in the house. Ever. But if she had, would I have taken my revenge and shot the people who made my life a living hell?

No. I wouldn't have.

Chances are, the first and only person I would have used a firearm on would have been myself.

As much pain as I was in at the time, and as heavy as the weight of that pain is even today, I still would not wish harm to those who caused it to me. My mom always tells me, "Those people will get their just rewards. I promise." But I don't want that. What kind of person would I be if I wanted those people to suffer? I would be no better than they are.

If I got the chance to confront my bullies now, my first question to them wouldn't be, "So how was it, peaking in high school?" (as satisfying as that would be to ask). My first question would be one word: why?

Why did you think it was okay to say, "Go kill yourself." to someone? Why was I the one you thought deserved to be treated like shit? What did I ever do to make you hate me? Because no one says the kinds of things that you said to someone they don't hate with a passion?

To anyone who once knew me, who might be reading this and thinking it might be about them, chances are it probably is. So I want you to know something.

I don't hate you. I never did. I didn't hate you when I was angry, I didn't hate you when I was sad. I didn't hate you in any of the moments I probably could and should have. I don't want you to suffer. I don't want bad karma to come to you. It pains me to see that for some of you, it already has.

All I want for those who have intentionally hurt me in the past is to see that they have changed for the better. I want to know that they regret what they did because it was wrong, not because karma has come knocking. I have learned to be kind because I know how it feels to be the victim of someone else's cruelty. I want the same for the people who committed those acts of cruelty.

Cover Image Credit: Yogapedia

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