As a new school year draws near, and as those new year jitters start to make you squirm; it's easy to be scared about growing up. In all honesty, it is scary. It's really, really scary. You aren't quite sure what to anticipate, but you're still as anxious as can be. The future is an interesting thing to think about--it's a blank slate, but you can't paint it all at once. It's a piece of art that you will continue to work on forever, just as you will continue to develop your future forever. Although you ultimately control your own destiny (with guidance from above, of course), you'll have to understand that growing up influences:
Responsibilities. With new freedoms come new responsibilities. Sure, you can choose where you want to live--but you have to pay for it. The same principle applies to car shopping, restaurant choices, trips, and basically everything else. You decide where and if you sleep at night, you decide what and if you eat, and you're in charge of yourself now. You can pick whatever you want. However, can you pay for whatever you want? Can you trust yourself to make commitments like that? Maybe you already can, or maybe you'll have to wait a little while. Responsibility is both learned and practiced, so take your time perfecting the skill.
Stress. With new responsibilities come new stresses. Adulthood puts emphasis on different things than childhood. Therefore, different things require your attention and your worry. With all of the new things to stress about, it's easy to become very anxious. You fail one too many tests during a tough semester, can you manage paying tuition if you lose your scholarship? You can handle buying a pack or two of bandaids and some Neosporin, but can you afford health insurance? Your tires slide all over the road when it rains, but would you be able to pay for the repairs if you rear end someone? Even past the monetary stresses, you actually have to worry about keeping people happy. In childhood, you don't always have to please everyone. However, in adulthood, you have bosses, family, (maybe) a significant other, their family, landlords, and professors to appease. Eventually, you'll have children to worry about...but that's way too much to think about right now.
Experiences. Filling out your own medical forms at doctors' offices instead of reading a magazine while your mom does it for you. Driving yourself to the beach instead of sleeping in the back seat. Cooking your own dinner instead of watching TV when you should be helping. Cleaning your apartment instead of waiting for your parents to get annoyed and do it for you. Getting vaccinated without your dad there to hold your hand. Walking home from the library at 2am instead of being in the safety of your own home, where your mom was there to help you study. Waking yourself up (with 12+ alarms) for classes and for work, rather than hearing your dad yell for you to wake up. These are things that either you're about to face or you have faced. Although a lot of the things you'll experience are pesky or tiring, some are great. Growing up means going to a party if you want to. It means road-tripping to your best friend's college for the weekend. It means going to that music festival that your parents never allowed you to attend. It means being responsible for your life, but it also means being able to live.
Self control. Growing up doesn't make you gain or lose emotions. No matter the age or maturity level, we are all still human. Humans feel both happiness and sadness, both peace and fear, both confidence and vulnerability, and both love and anger. No matter the emotion, though, growing up requires controlling your tongue and your actions. It is no longer socially acceptable to throw temper tantrums when Wendy's informs you that the Frosty machine is broken, nor is it okay for you to punch someone if they call you a meanie. Growing up means conditioning yourself to handle all sorts of situations, but still maintain both your sanity and your dignity.
Relationships. This is the absolute truest example of "you win some and you lose some." Some of your most prized childhood relationships dwindle away, normally because life causes you to fall out of touch. Those friendships that you thought you'd never lose? Don't freak out when they end. Most of the time, these relationships don't fall apart because of a major fight or anything of the sort. They fall apart merely because your lives change. You move to new cities, you make new friends, you join new organizations/groups, you pick up new hobbies, and your overall circumstances just simply change. It's nothing to feel guilty about, it's just that you subconsciously choose who to confide in. You'll eventually find yourself having loads of friends and acquaintances, but only a couple truly close friends. You choose who you want to burden with your dramatic stories and babbling thoughts. You choose who you want to meet for coffee every other morning. You choose who to call when things appear to be falling apart. Your personal life becomes more and more private as you grow older, and that's totally okay.
Bodily changes. This is just a slow fade from the day you graduate until the day you die. Your metabolism will no longer work at the same speed as it did when you were seven years old. You may have already realized that you can't eat Doritos and cookies everyday without your stomach/thighs getting jiggly. Aside from food, workouts become harder and irregular. That sport you played in high school that kept you in shape but didn't feel like a workout? Yeah, good luck finding a replacement for that. As you grow up, you learn that making it to the gym twice a week is enough of a challenge. Also, you stay sore longer than you did once upon a time. Not only does it take twice as long for your body to bounce back, but you also realize that one day, hopefully in the distant future, you'll get wrinkles and you'll have to wear reading glasses.
Nostalgia. No matter how much you love where you are in life, or how excited you are about what is yet to come, you will always get that desire to travel back in time and relive certain moments. There are regretted moments that you wish you could change, and there are cherished moments that you wish you could relive. You remember the butterflies in your stomach during your first kiss, the way it felt to perform a solo in front of a full crowd or kick the winning goal, the cute little giggle that your baby brother had when you'd tickle him. Flashes of your past constantly play in the back of your mind, and though you wish with all of your heart that you could time travel, you learn to live your life appreciating those sentimental moments.
But eventually, you learn to appreciate the life you once had. Then, you start to appreciate what lies ahead. Life gets real, and it happens fast. College is the beginning of a life full of both good and bad changes. You know why that's okay? Because it's natural, it's normal, and it's unavoidable. Don't freak out though. Although there's no way to prepare for it, life is always both manageable and conquerable. Every trouble has an answer, and every low has a high.