As my seventeenth birthday drew to a close, I sat on my floor writing in my journal. Inside, I wrote "...I'm here, at 17, feeling far too young to be this old. My room is a vibrant green, I sleep with a stuffed moose with orange antlers, and I still use a nightlight. All my Kate DiCamillo books are displayed proudly on my shelf, and my socks either don't match or proudly whimsical." I closed the journal and lay on my back, staring at my ceiling. I do this a lot, actually. I stare at my ceiling, at stars, at clouds, etc. Laying on my back and gazing at what's above me is something I've done for as long as I can remember, and it's not something I see changing anytime soon.
I have a very vivid memory of being nine years old and brushing my hair before going to sleep. I'd just cut my hair short for the first time, and it rested around my chin. I was wearing a white, long-sleeved nightgown with dozens of colorful ballerinas on it. As I brushed my hair and looked into the mirror, I thought to myself I never want to grow up. I want to stay nine years old forever. I figured I'd be the one lucky person who could join Peter Pan and never grow up. Obviously, I didn't stay a small nine year old forever, as my eighteenth birthday is only one week away.
But like my nine year old and seventeen year old self, I don't want to grow up. I still feel like Wendy Darling, and I still feel far too young to be this old. I still have a daydream mentality that keeps me gazing at what's above me, and I still wear mismatched socks most of the time. I thought I'd feel older by now, and I thought I'd have had more figured out. I don't know how to drive, I don't know how to write my own personal statement, and I have no idea how to fill out whatever the FAFSA is. But, like so many people in my life tell me time and time again, I don't have to have it all figured out right now. That's what growing up is for- to learn from our mistakes, to figure it out along the way, and to just grow up.
I'll be eighteen in seven days (seven days!!), but that doesn't mean that I only have one week to get it all together. I think I'm doing okay, and while I know I still have so much to learn, I get a whole new year to do that. This year is going to bring along so many changes. I'll go through my senior year, I'll graduate, and I'll head off to college, but before I do any of those things I get to grow up a little bit more. I don't have to feel old enough to be old enough. I can still sleep with my stuffed moose while a nightlight shines into the darkness, I can still ask questions when I don't understand something, I can still lay on my back and stare up at the sky, and I can still take the time to grow up.