She was in her mid twenties. She stood before a class of thirty 15 & 16 year olds, visibly pregnant. I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember what she looked like or how she dressed. I don’t even remember the topic or how the subject came up in our Honors World History class. Nevertheless she asked the class.
“If any of you are brave enough, would you share your deepest fear?”
I raised my hand.
It wasn’t your typical teenage fear. Classmates looked at me differently. She was visibly taken aback before responding. “That’s a double edge sword.”
She’s right. It was.
My biggest fear at 16 was that when I grew up I would forget what it feels like to be young. Part of me was afraid of growing up, I’m still afraid of growing up. I am still afraid that I haven’t actually grown up, maybe I’m just a teen trapped in an adults body and with adult responsibility. That is until I’m near teens, than I just feel old. However, this fear goes even deeper than the normal fear of growing up.
It is a fear of forgetting the feel of youth. The way it feels when your awkwardly trying to talk to a crush. The silly giggles that are exchanged between girls. The pain of your break up even though it only lasted two weeks. The agony of homework. The annoyance of being talked down to just because your a kid. The fun of playing outside. The absolute joy of a day off.
I was afraid that I would turn into that adult that minimized and trivialized my children’s emotions because of their age and immaturity. I hated when grow ups would say “aww puppy love”, what made it puppy love? Looking back now, I can see how important all of those early relationships were. They taught me to give, to communicate, to love unconditionally… they taught me so much.
I used to think, a lot, and dwell on my thoughts…I still do. In some ways I’m still growing up. In fact, I am still growing up. I’m still learning from relationships. I’m still afraid of forgetting how now feels. Although, unlike my earlier assumptions, growing up isn’t something that you achieve. We claim that kids have “grown up” but the truth is that they have just grown further and they will continue to grow.
Growing up isn’t a destination. There is no magical age that you hit and suddenly feel grown up. The same goes for the memories and feelings. You never know whats going to stand out in your memory or what feelings you will never forget until your looking backwards. That’s why it’s a double edged sword.
It can be wonderful to remember all of those feelings when in comes to your interactions with younger people, but if you let your fear take over then you begin to dwell on the past, making the present less memorable.
We never stop growing up but we can stop moving forward… and thats another fear for another post.
I’m no longer afraid of forgetting how being young feels.
I don’t need to feel afraid because I can look back and remember.
I do remember how it feels to be 6, or 11, or 15, or 22 but I also get to enjoy how it feels to be now.
I’m still just growing up.