Growing up is kind of like falling over the side of a ship in the middle of the storm and losing hold of the rope that the crew members throw you. The waves crash up around you, filling your shoes and your mouth and your nose, dragging you down under in spite of your frantic attempts to stay afloat. Your nose stings and you begin to lose your breath, releasing bubbles of what little air you’ve left until there isn’t any in reserve.
It’s like misplacing something valuable and not having any idea where it might have run off to. No matter where you look, how frantically you tear apart your room, you know deep in your gut that this precious item is lost forever.
It’s like trying a new ice cream or candy and finding that it doesn’t taste anything like what you’d been expecting. Your tongue curls and nose wrinkles as the unexpected taste takes a moment to get used to, and you decide whether or not you like it.
Growing up used to be my ultimate trajectory. I wanted out. Out of my home town. Out of my life. I wanted to see amazing things and to be someone incredible – someone who lived a life full of fun and adventure and glamour.
But I’ve realized that growing up isn’t something that automatically happens when you turn 18. You don’t evolve into an adult like a Pokemon or Tamagotchi. You don’t wake up one morning with your life pulled together, a fantastic wardrobe, and a bank account full of cash.
And I’m kind of getting to be okay with that.
Because growing up might be like losing something valuable or trying a strange, new ice cream. It’s kind of like standing on the edge of a cliff over a crashing ocean, swaying slightly as you wait to see if you’ll fly or fall. But it’s also like finding the first flower in Spring or playing a piece of music perfectly for the first time since you started learning it.
It’s like driving for the first time, hands shaking as they grip the steering wheel. Eyes darting everywhere, nerves dancing on each other as you try to control the metal beast. But it’s exhilarating. It’s challenging. A little bit daunting, but it’s getting to be less and less the kind of daunting that leaves me wanting to run to my bed and hide under my covers and more the kind of daunting that inspires me to buck up and overcome it.