On Growing Up

On Growing Up

A few thoughts on new adulthood.
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This morning, as I headed to the windy city on an early inter-campus shuttle, I listened to a song that has really catapulted the somewhat lesser-known Twenty One Pilots into fame, "Stressed Out." The song has one line that particularly struck me, as I suppose that it has struck the many people who have made it so popular: "Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol' days/When our momma sang us to sleep but now we're stressed out."

It seemed a fitting start to a day spent with children.

After I got off the inter-campus bus, I walked to the Poetry Foundation where I was assisting with the Poetry Out Loud competition, a spoken word event for high schoolers. While the high school students were incredible at their performances, what was even more impactful to me was their answer to the question: "What are your hopes and dreams for this coming year?" As most of them were seniors, this was something heavily on their minds (a thing that I'm not completely unfamiliar with). Some of them seemed to know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. One girl said that she wanted to “disturb the world” and then explained that to her that meant being an environmental journalist who packs a punch. Another said that she wanted to be a dancer and later, when her body would no longer allow it, become a writer who lives abroad. Countless others said that they were planning on using the rest of the semester and summer to “figure their lives out.” While I admired their ambitions, I couldn’t help but be a little worried about these mature young people. Would they themselves and the increasingly pressure-filled world give them the room and patience to take things with time? Would they be allowed to be children even for just a little while longer? Luckily, during the lunch break, a crowd of them led by one energetic young girl sat on the stage in a circle, exchanged names, and then sang together to Katy Perry. It was as if they were at camp or as though they were a PA group of sprightly freshman meeting for the first time. They giggled and peered around at the adults with scheming glances as if to flaunt their indomitable youth. I was glad--relieved, almost--to see that fresh glow of youth and silliness.

Later, as I was waiting for the inter-campus shuttle, I decided to dip into a coffee shop to charge my phone. As I sat at a table, working on my computer, a small child wandered over from beside her mom. The girl was mesmerized by my phone on the table. She looked at it like it was a talisman of sorts, as though it held possibility. This struck me, particularly because I had just become frustrated with this "tool" for not holding a charge when I needed it to. My cell phone has become--as so many things do as people grow older--mundane to me.

When you're a college student, you don't get to spend that much time around children. Today, being around kids and watching their exuberance and energy, their joie de vivre, their simple wonder for life, made me want to wake up a little and shake off the veil of adult banality that so often clouds my vision. I want to stay young. I want to keep young, especially in mind and attitude. As a senior, I want to look toward the future as that child gazed lovingly upon my phone: as if it holds something precious, made sweeter by the fact that I don't understand it quite yet.

Cover Image Credit: graphicriver.net

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Poetry On The Odyssey: It's a Girl

An ode to the little girl raised to be insecure.

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They raise little girls to be insecure

Little girls grow to be big girls

People always ask big girls why they're so insecure

Big girls aren't quite sure

Day after day the big girl can't keep up

She's exhausted

Her soul feels worn

The big girl learns to grow hard

In a way, she's a bit stronger

People call her a bitch

Bitch

What is that?

How can she let that affect her

It's simply the only way to be her

She mourns that little girl

Hoping that one day

She'll be strong


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