The Fear of Growing Up

Saturday, July 18

By Savannah Williams

I turn eighteen this year.

I become an adult. Where I live, I can buy alcohol and cigarettes, I can go clubbing, I can get a tattoo, I can vote, I can move out, I can make my own decisions without permission. It should feel exciting. All the things I've wanted the freedom to do since I was little; I can do them. I can finally be treated like an adult, act like an adult, and be seen as an adult. Yet I'm dreading my birthday.

I've looked forward to turning eighteen for so many years. On my thirteenth birthday, I remember that thinking "only five more years until I turn eighteen". On my fifteenth, "only three", on my sixteenth, "only two". But last year - on my seventeenth birthday - I didn't feel the same excitement and longing for my next birthday. I felt dread. I dreaded the closing of my seventeenth year. I dreaded the day when I would finally become an "adult"; because I don't feel ready. I feel as though the time has come too soon.

For so much of my childhood, I looked forward to high school. Teenagers always seemed so cool... living it up, with no idea what was waiting for them tomorrow; just living life in the moment. I looked forward to it; and then I became one. Teenage; such a pivotal time in one's life, yet only a period of five years before legal adulthood. I spent these years of my life ignoring the the things going on in the moment and focusing on growing up - yet now I don't want to.

My teenage years have gone so fast, and I fear the fact that in the blink of an eye I'll be thirty years old. I won't be able to live life like I used to - I probably even won't remember the people from my high school, and I might not even be friends with some of the people who are my best friends now. I won't remember my teachers or my acquaintances and I probably won't remember the feeling of getting a grade back after a test. I won't remember how it felt to walk to school, or how it felt to walk between classes in the rain. I won't ever feel excitement after asking my parents to let me do something and hearing them say yes; I won't ever be able to do something I know I shouldn't.

Adulthood is a trade. You give up the freedom to learn, experience things for the first time, and have so few responsibilities, in exchange for the freedom to buy and do what you want. A trade that you can never reverse.

I feel the fear of growing up is shared by everyone who has ever lived their teenage years. The realisation that soon you'll be paying your own bills, making your own appointments, doing your own shopping, working all week; and that you'll never live your teenage years again. It's the fear of losing the ability to rebel against the world, make risky decisions, and do things for the very first time.

I'm learning how to deal with it. At the moment, I suppose the only real way to deal with it is to ignore it. To ignore the fear of growing old, and to live life right now, despite the looming fear of adulthood and responsibility. I need to live the rest of my youth in a way I won't regret; in a way I'll look back on longingly when I'm older. My fear of growing up is to do with feeling like I've wasted time. There's only one way to avoid that: to spend time doing the things I love, making sure I can look into my past and enjoy the memories.

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