Beliefs and Barbies

Lily - Columbia, South Carolina
Entered on January 22, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

Beliefs and Barbies

When I was first told that I would be writing a “This I Believe” essay, my initial reaction was that I was going to have to make something up and try my darndest to cough up a decent piece of work. See, thing is, I’m only 18 years old. I certainly have had some memorable experiences in my life, but I feel like I haven’t lived long enough to say I ‘believe’ something and sound credible at the same time! But, a couple of days went by, I thought about it some more, and I realized something: the reason I felt intimidated by this assignment was because my childhood was truly a childhood. This is not to say that I wasn’t taught any morals or values or that the way I was raised didn’t mold me in to who I am today. However, it is to say that my childhood wasn’t a previous life– it was a childhood– the beginning of my life. I grew up knowing that my life-changing experiences would come later. I believe that children should be allowed to be children– curious, innocent, imaginative, genuine, playful, energetic, children. They’ll grow up too soon anyway; childhood is a fleeting moment and should be cherished.

I played with Barbie dolls until I was 13. I knew that the “cool” girls in my grade had long since abandoned, or, as I think, hidden, their love for these wonderful toys so they could feel more grown up and so they could impress the older kids, but I certainly wasn’t going to let that stop me! My parents never once said to me, “Lily, don’t you think you’re getting a little old for that?” or “Don’t you want to try something a little more mature?” Instead, they let me be free to imagine and create. Barbies weren’t the only thing, for sure. My friends and I would traipse through the woods for hours, come home, jump on the trampoline, go inside at dark, and finish our day by making disgusting concoctions out of bath soap and leftovers. We had seemingly endless, amazing fun because “the grown-ups” weren’t rushing us along. More importantly, we matured naturally through our play. No one forced us to leave behind our childhood; we left it behind when we were ready.

I realize that I was blessed to grow up the way I did, and I know that there are many different reasons that some children have to emerge in to adulthood sooner than is ideal. But I can’t help but wish that every kid could hold tight to and take advantage of every second of the time that they are allowed to be kids. There’s nothing wrong with being 18 and thinking to yourself, ‘What do I believe?’ It just means you’ve had your fair share of Barbie time.