This I Believe

Shannon - Guilderland, New York
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that a person never really grows up. For years I have always been told that I am wise beyond my years. I don’t quite fit in with my peers because I’ve always had an adult perspective when it comes to dealing with teenage issues. My belief until now was that due to my apparent “mature” nature, I had already become an adult. I felt that I handled my responsibilities to the best of my ability and I could handle myself well with intellectual adult conversation.

Just recently I celebrated my eighteenth birthday and it dawned on me; Sure I’m mature, but I can’t find my way home from Latham when I’m driving in my car, and Yes, I have a job, yet I still look to my parents for handouts. All of these years I have been building up this adult façade yet I have the insecurities, antics, and fears of a child. I have always wanted more than anything to be accepted and acknowledged as an adult. I always use to ask my mother why she didn’t have me five years earlier, and would later become furious at the fact that I was still in high school. This is not the way I should be living my life, it’s time for me to turn over a new leaf. I don’t want to wake up one morning and regret that I neglected the days of my youth by exchanging it for heavy burdens and a life of seriousness. I want to revel in the fact that I can be a zany, goofy, unbridled teenager with no regrets as to what I’ve done or said in the past. I’ve come to find that this revelation doesn’t just apply to my life but to the lives of every human in general.

Although there may come a time in every person’s life when they need to grow up and face the music, there is always that tugging of the notorious “inner child” that allows them to loosen up every once in awhile. Perhaps it could even be that longing for youth that in fact keeps us young at heart. I work with the elderly in an active retirement community and on a daily basis I have the privilege of hearing the stories of their youth. Their bodies may be frail and their personalities may be refined by their many life experiences, yet the memories of youth and joy seem to spark a fire in their eyes. This enthusiasm that radiates within lets me know that there is most definitely a part of them that is still quite childlike. They are always telling me that I should take it easy and enjoy the ride while I still can and while I often take their advice to heart, it is hard for me to accept that I am still a child myself.

However old we become or however stern or stoical we may appear, we never really fully grow up. Growing up is just a myth that life has woven together over the centuries. Although there may be pain, tragedy and frustration along the journey of life, there will always be a goofy joke or memory of the days of yore that will brighten up even the worst of circumstances and will reveal the inner child in you.