As of September 21st, 2021, I am 17 years and 303 days old. Three hundred and three days ago I was with my group of friends celebrating. The year before that on my 16th birthday I spent the day with my sisters and went to the Ariana Grande concert. The year before that when I turned 15, I was in North Carolina exploring the Great Smokey Mountains. The year before that… well I don’t necessarily remember; however, I do remember for my 12th birthday my family and I went to go to dinner at Olive Garden. I can even recall my fifth birthday party that was Disney princess themed even though it is vague.
I can remember all of these important dates of my life and I can clearly visualize accomplishments, like when I won first place in my first ever ice skating competition at the age of six and my first day of kindergarten. But what I cannot seem to remember is how I grew up and how I came to be this almost adult person when five seconds ago I was a little kid that was obsessed with pink and sparkles (I mean I still am, but still). The basis of what I’m attempting to discuss is that it is honestly very confusing how with all of this growing and maturing, it is rare that we actually acknowledge this change in ourselves.
We see people growing up all of the time. For example, that little cousin that I haven’t seen since preschool is now a full-grown adult and all I can remember is the little kid I used to play Barbies with. With the vantage of an outside perspective of others and the ideal of not seeing them and encountering them on a daily basis, we are able to recognize change. It is different, however, with people that one sees every day and even more different for within oneself.
I wake up every morning and the first thing that I do is go to the bathroom to brush my teeth. There I see the same person I saw in the mirror last night, except this time her face is red and she can barely see because her eyes are still blurred from sleeping. The concept is that we see ourselves every single day and therefore we don’t ever really recognize if we got taller or if our hair grew longer because ultimately we change little by little and at a constant rate, and we are able to watch ourselves at every single increment of change.
I am rarely able to recognize that my maturity levels have increased and I have become more skilled in almost every aspect of my life when compared to myself at 11. I came to this realization the other day when I came across a list I had made in fifth grade titled “The things I need so that my life can be perfect.” This list contained the items of having a queen sized bed, my own room, and owing an iPhone. Well, I do indeed have every single one of those things now but my life is unfortunately a very far distance from perfection. If I were to redo that list today as a senior in high school, it would contain items of the following: for everyone that I love to never get old and stay healthy forever, for people to not involve themselves in negativity, and for all people to reach equality without having to fight to the death for it. The list could continue for a long while about the things that would make my life perfect today but I don’t think that I would ever stop. When comparing these two lists it is obvious that my thinking has gotten mature and more strategic, as well as striving for goals in the interest of human nature rather than the need (as my fifth grade self would put it) for a queen sized bed.
If it weren’t for that list I would not have come to the realization that so much change happens down to the millisecond of life. In a few months I’m going to be moving away from home and going to a university to live completely on my own, but will I really see that as a huge dramatic change, or will I see it as a small increment of my life that just so happened to occur?
It’s the simple things in life that really cause for a person to question life, time and change all at once. For me it was the finding of an old note I wrote in fifth grade while organizing my closet over the weekend. However, for others it could be something much smaller or grander. Change is constant and nothing remains steady. It takes a lot of bravery to set into this world as an individual and understand that life is ever changing, and you are a part of that change.
Growing up is a proces