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Ka Leo O Kalani

The student news site of Kalani High School

Ka Leo O Kalani

To Grow Up

When I turned 8 years old, I decided I didn’t want to grow up. It was then that I began to dread the idea of getting older. I remember coming to my mom with my concerns.  

I wander the beach at 4-years-old. My favorite color was pink.
(Photo by David Washburn)

“I don’t want to be 8,” I said. 

“Why not?” 

“Because soon I won’t be cute anymore.” 

She laughed. 

“You’ll always be cute.” 

I wasn’t convinced. Each year after that on my birthday I tried to find the joy in getting older. I focused on the fun, the balloons, the cake—but inside was struggling to accept the passing of another year. 

I turned 18 this month, and this feeling has been stronger than ever. I wish I could reason it away. I know that aging is inevitable; why not embrace it? Why should I despise growing older when there is so much to look forward to? I’m coming into my own—soon I’ll move away for college and live on my own. I’ll be completely free and independent. 

It sounds like a dream, but for some reason thinking about it makes me nauseous. 

Maybe it’s because it feels like it marks the end of my youth. For years I’ve tried desperately to hold on to whatever is left of my childhood. 

In middle school I went through a phase where I felt like I had to grow up and act mature, as much as I hated it. But, at the same time, I couldn’t help but act like a child. I played and laughed and did dumb things just for the sake of it. I wore silly earrings and sang songs obnoxiously and loved the color pink. 

When I think back to it, I cringe at myself–but I don’t regret it. I’m glad I couldn’t force myself to grow up. I’m glad I eventually stopped trying.

I show off my pink hair in a selfie taken a month after my 18th birthday.
(Photo by Lily Washburn)

By high school I knew I didn’t have much more childhood left. I gave up trying to act mature and let myself be the child I was inside. I watched my favorite cartoons from when I was a kid, I replaced all the stuffed animals I had donated years earlier, I bought myself little toys and trinkets, I decorated my room with pictures of fairies and flowers and butterfly stickers–I filled my life with color. 

It made me happy; made me feel like myself. It still does, but it’s not enough anymore to distract me from the reality that sooner or later, I’ll have to grow up. I’m not sure what this means, but I know that it will be different, and that’s what scares me. 

It’s weird and confusing, being 18. The law says you’re an adult, but you don’t feel any less of a child than you were at 17, or 15, or 10. You have more responsibilities, sure, but you still have sleepovers on Saturday nights and stay up late talking to your friends on the phone and miss your mom when you’re at school. 

So what does it mean, really, to be an adult? Do people ever really stop feeling like a child? Is everyone just pretending they know what they’re doing? 

Sometimes I think so, but other times it feels like there’s these unspoken rules about being an adult that I’m not aware of. 

Either way, I know that I don’t want to be one. 

Some might say this makes me immature. They might be right, but is that really so bad? If being immature means finding joy in silly things like fairies and pink and skipping down the sidewalk and having dessert before dinner, then so be it. 

I know that I will never be a child again, but that doesn’t mean I have to stop feeling like one. 

I hope that I never part from the child within me, but instead hold her hand and walk through life with her.

Maybe I don’t have to let her go. 

 

At one, my hair was always adorned with a pink bow.
(Photo by David Washburn)

 

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About the Contributor
Lily Washburn, Reporter
Lily is a senior and will be writing all the news you read in a few years-- if not sooner.

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