In the next few months two big things in my life happen: I turn 23 and I finally graduate from college. Although I am ecstatic about both of them and know I am ready for the next phase in my life, a part of me is frightened to death. On the surface, every part of me is ready to graduate and leave the college life behind. Even though I am only taking an extra semester on top of the typical four years to do so, it seems like I have been in college forever and I’m ready to say goodbye. As I am about to turn 23 I realize on paper and by all definitions I am fully considered an adult, in no way can I hold on to my childhood tenancies. I need to make that final acceptance and leap into adulthood, and the problem is a major part of me just doesn’t want to let go of my youth to do so.
I have never been one to love and easily accept change, no matter what it is concerning, and in my book the change and transition into adulthood is a big one. It isn’t the ‘new’ the scares me, or the fact that being an adult means having to take on more responsibilities. It’s the fact that I also have to let go of a huge part of my being, and fully recognize that my childhood is now in the past. What I don’t think a lot of people in my life that try and brush off my struggle into adulthood understand is what exactly is making me afraid. Sure, I’m fully capable of working a full time job, paying my own bills and cooking and doing my own laundry. All those things are surface matters and things I have been doing for myself for years. I’m smart; all the physical and trivial changes that happen when becoming an adult isn’t what scares me and makes me so hesitant; it’s the emotions that come with the change.
So when I say growing up is hard it isn’t the extra obligations that follows, but the emotions and realization that those great moments of innocence will forever be just memories now. When I truly take the time to think about what being an adult means and potentially giving up on an emotional level, I find myself in a deep hole of my own thoughts unable to escape. I have talked about this numerous times with many people in my life hoping to find out I am not alone in feeling this way, and I am at least relieved to know I am not. That I’m not the only one that experiences something just as simple as hearing a song from a moment in their childhood to trigger those memories and images flooding back like a storybook. It makes me want to sink back to a time of simplicity, before I understood the true meaning of hurt and betrayal, and what it truly means to ‘grow up’; that life can be hell sometimes and you just need to suck it up and take it.
Also, if I finally accept that I am an adult in all meanings of the matter, it means I finally have to accept that my parents too are getting older, and that scares me. I understand death is unfortunately a part of life and one day it’ll happen to all of us, but emotionally I am just not ready to accept that a day will come when I’ll have to continue living without my parents by my side. Again, my parents raised me well, and I am not worried if I can physically keep on living when my parents pass. Sure I don’t need my mom around to do my laundry anymore or my dad to change a light bulb, by those definitions I am already fully an adult. What I do still need my parents for and can never see not needing them is on an emotional level, to be there to tell me everything is going to be okay. So as I grow older I start to understand so does the time grow shorter that they will be around for countless advice or just a needed hug.
This emotional transition from childhood to adulthood is the ultimate struggle for me as I am sure it has been for people in the past. I love the idea of growing up and hopefully one day marrying the love of my life, someone I could never imagine living without. To be able to raise children together and instill all the great lessons and values we have learned just like my parents did for me. To see a new generation grow up and experience those great moments of childhood I so do not want to say goodbye too. And maybe what some say is true, that having your own kids and seeing their happiness and joy in instants like walking down the stairs on Christmas morning or their laughter as you build a snowman together as a family will also bring back the joys for you too, but right now I’m not fully convinced.
As it seems like all my classes in my final semester of college are talking about change and the importance of letting go to do so, I still find myself fighting the biggest change in my life thus far. Like my professors have said in my classes, change is only hard because it means saying goodbye to a former identity and accepting things will be different. I need to remember that although it may feel like I am losing a part of me that I am also gaining opportunities and experience, and although it is hard, growth is good. The future is going to happen whether I am ready or not, so I just hope I’ll soon have the courage needed to make the final step into adulthood.