I believe that there is no sense in trying to “act your age,” no matter what anyone else says.
As an only child, I found myself surrounded by adults most of the time. I picked up their language and their patterns of speech, their intonations and inflexions, and everyone thought it was just the cutest thing ever. Being little, I thought that they, too, were delightfully amused by the remarks I made.
It wasn’t until I grew older and went to school that I realized I sounded different from other children. I said words the other children hadn’t heard, and at times I was compelled to invoke he tone my mother used when explaining something particularly complex, like what was meant by the teacher’s instruction to heed the bell. I noticed the difference, but by then it was too late to change my precocious ways.
C. S. Lewis has said that it is only the very best children who seem the most grown-up, just as it is the very best sort of grown-ups who seem to be the most childlike. I believe, like Lewis, that the wisdom and understanding that come from age are not at all the same as what we mean by “being grown-up.”
Now I’m about to graduate high school, and everyone else seems to be in such a hurry to grow up. In some ways, I still act like the “little grown-up” I was in elementary school, but in others, I’m really just a kid, like any other eighteen-year-old. In some ways, I have grown and matured, while in others, I feel I may have lost something of the pure spontaneity and unabashed honesty of childhood. In order to fully grow up, I believe that I have to harness that creative, inquisitive nature so familiar to us in childhood, and learn how to use it once again. I believe that in order to grow up, I need to be a child in the fullest, most child-like sense of the word.
I believe that as we grow older—beyond the great leap into adulthood that I am about to make, and into the years that are supposed to be devoted to restful reflection, as we prepare to take that last, great leap into uncharted waters— we must grow more childlike in our thinking if we are to understand more about ourselves and the world as a whole.
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