A lot of things are a little bit crazy to me.
Like how I’m over halfway done with high school; a series of events and classes and homework assignments that at one point felt never-ending.
Like how most of my friends are people who I got to know a year ago or less, and yet I feel closer to them than I’ve ever felt to anyone outside my family.
Like how I used to always dream of “the future” without actually thinking about what “the future” truly entails.
Like how I used to constantly make lists yet never actually accomplish any of the things on them.
Like how I’m sixteen, and in the eyes of the fifth graders I tutor, that makes me exotic and cool and interesting. In elementary school, everything about high schoolers seemed cool to me; the way they twirled their car keys, the way they dressed, the way they laughed so confidently within big groups of friends. Middle school was the same way. As an underclassman, I looked up to the upperclassman, thinking they seemed so collected and sure.
Now, I’m an upperclassman, and I realize that, for the time being, I don’t want to be older than I am. I don’t want to constantly imagine my future, wishing time away. I’m sixteen years old. And while yes, I want to write-I want to put my dreams and thoughts out there and break into the journalism industry, putting myself a step closer to everything I’ve ever wanted-at the same time, I want to be that high schooler who twirls her keys and laughs with big groups of friends. I want to be that high schooler who goes to football games and school dances and shows school spirit. I want to be that high schooler who wears bright colors and fun nail polish and stays up late talking to her friends and sometimes goes to the movies when she could be doing homework.
Because when will I ever get that chance again? I’m not that far away from being seventeen, and then before I know it, I’ll be eighteen: an adult. Today I’m full of nostalgia because spring brings out that feeling in me. On Easter, years ago, I got a kitten. There’s something about the innocence of kittens and faint sunlight and pastel dresses and Easter eggs that feels so fragile to me. When I think of all these things, so many aspects of my childhood flood back to me in a whirl of colors, creating something faint yet strong, light yet bold. Some of my memories make me sad, others make me long for things of my past, and others are truly just wonderful. Sometimes, I think about how easy it was to be young, even though I spent a lot of my life longing for the future. But as nostalgia consumes me, I realize it’s not something that has to bring me pain and a sense of longing, but rather something that can bring me beauty and hope. My past is a watercolor portrait, full of hazy worlds and moments and friends and events and feelings. Even though I’m older now, that portrait still belongs to me, and I’m still painting.
Growing up doesn’t mean giving up on and forgetting who you were. Growing up doesn’t mean only seeing beauty in practicality. Growing up doesn’t mean you can never imagine. To me, growing up is adding to the portrait. Adding mistakes and lessons and moments and feelings and everything else. And maybe someday, you’ll paint your dreams in bright colors, and they won’t have to be a figment of your imagination anymore.
To me, growing up doesn’t mean abandoning creativity.
It may mean packaging up your dolls, turning off your fairytale movies, and washing the paint from your fingers…
But your favorite doll started her own magazine, the girls in fairytales found love, you painted a world of bright colors and smudges, imperfection in its finest form. To me, growing up means letting your dreams jump off the canvas, away from your imagination, and into the real world.
You don’t have to paint in gray. So as I continue to grow older, I don’t intend on forgetting everything I ever believed in, every story that I ever read or created, every scene I ever imagined. Instead, I aspire to make every moment a masterpiece. To strip the bright, blurry colors from that old, worn-out canvas, and toss them into the world around me, splattering my dreams into reality and painting the world that once existed inside my mind but doesn’t have to anymore.