What It Feels Like to Never Grow Up

By Jerianne Bonaguidi // As Told to Julia Hackeloer

Julia Hackeloer

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Growing up comes with its perks and its downfalls, just like everything else we have to go through in our lifetimes. My whole life I looked at my friends growing up faster than me and I realized how I never wanted to be the same as them. At the end of every school year, my friends would be itching to move up a grade level and onto the next chapter of their lives without a care in the world. From time to time, I find myself looking back on memories with my grandmother when life was but a dream.

I remember gazing up at my grandmothers face, sitting upon our grass green family room carpeting. To most young children, you only actually focus on what is right in front of you. For most people, it’s your mother or father’s face smiling down at you, but to me, that face was my grandmother. She was always there when my parents couldn’t be. Since she passed I’ve found myself looking back at that memory because it immediately takes me back to simpler times.

The purest moments of innocence: my older sister riding her tricycle on our perfectly paved sidewalk, her hair bouncing in pig tales, me trying to keep up with her, mesmerised in that moment when time felt like everything was perfect. When I was younger, I often dreamed that I could just hit the pause button on time because I  couldn’t keep up with the real world expectations. I wanted to hold onto being young forever.

My whole life I enjoyed math- it was my favorite subject. In about fifth grade I was learning algebra at a higher level then most kids in my grade. I worked hard and  I stayed in during my recesses for help. I watched my older sister struggle with high school homework and I thought to myself, will I be able to keep up when I reach high school?

I was scared, realizing how it is just going to keep getting harder and harder as I grow.

Fast forward a few years to my junior year in high school. When I was going through my freshman and sophomore year I didn’t really worry about graduating from high school. As I realize my junior year is coming to an end, I watch as all of my senior friends are about to graduate. That’s when it really hit me. Suddenly I realized that there is no more being called a kid anymore. Next year I turn 18 and I’ll be considered an adult. I’ll be someone who is able to legally vote and someone who will have complete control of the rest of my life. I will be the one who is hours away. I will be the one who has to worry about how much money I am spending in one night. All of my responsibilities and all of the fault will be put on me.

Seeing that I have my whole life ahead of me is a scary thought. I take deep breaths, knowing that if I truly want to fly, I cannot be afraid to in order to reach my dreams.

Throughout the younger years of my childhood, my parents were constantly making home videos, trying to capture the everlasting memories on tape for us to enjoy later. Whenever I am feeling a bit down or off, I turn on the videos of memories from my simple life and a rush of instant clarity comes upon me.

Everything is completely changed. From the time when I did not know left from right to now is so weird to look back. As I look back I see a different house, people who have aged and look different; my sister and I are no longer two little girls riding down the street wearing pigtails anymore. I watch those videos and although not everything is the same, I try to hold onto those memories for as long as I can. I am about to graduate high school and move onto the rest of my life. It is crazy to think that I am the same kid that I was 10 years ago. I tend to think that I was a whole separate person, but deep down it has always really just been me.

Sometimes It makes me sad when I realize that we only get to experience childhood once. We get one chance to make the best of it and it all comes down to what you end up doing. I’m the only one who watches our home videos because I’m the only one who is still attached to them. It is a part of me that I hope I get the chance to hold onto for a very long time.

I believe that growing up doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with aging, although that’s what many people seem to put it as. Staying young at heart in today’s society is seen as unattractive. Age doesn’t give you maturity, inevitably we all grow up at some point. Every morning, I wake up with a choice. That choice is whether or not I choose to live that day being afraid to grow up or not.

Inevitably, the hours pass, the days pass, the weeks pass and the years pass. Even as time goes on and we age, we can all choose to stay forever young at heart.