Behind the couch. Photo by Katelyn Avery.
Crawling behind the couch was one of my favorite childhood adventures. It was my version of finding the magic wardrobe. My twin sister Jen also shared this Narnia like activity with me. Sometimes I was in a cave, or sometimes it really was just a couch. I would be hiding out during a game of hide and go seek. Either way my young mind was occupied by such games, and I was smiling.
Aging out of these antics is inevitable. I was around 8 or 9 when it happened. It was during the ‘01-‘02 school year. I was in third grade and my maturity level was beginning to progress. I was also getting too big physically. As one of the tallest kids in my grade at the time I surpassed most of the boys. Fitting behind furniture proved to be less fun when it was a tight squeeze.
I wasn’t hit in the “feels” as we say now-a-days. Emotion didn’t overcome me, and I wasn’t ready to cry. I was just growing up, and it didn’t need to be a sad thing. People always put down the aging process, even during the “good” years.
I’m only 21 so I haven’t really hit any “bad” parts of aging. Almost all of them are awesome, and would be hard to give back. There are exceptions of course. I wasn’t exercising enough in the beginning of community college so my blood pressure was a little high, but that was easily fixed over four months. I can’t eat endless amounts of junk food and expect to keep the weight off, but I’m losing a desire for some childhood foods anyways. Lunchables and sugary cereals come to mind. They were great at age 10, but at age 21 I can definitely leave them for the young ones out there. Teen acne also hit me in a mild to harsh way, and has followed me a little into adulthood, but that can be dealt with, and I’ve learned to love myself. Also, I’m able to find comfort in my own skin way more as adult, than as a kid.
Growing up has also allowed me way more freedom than the under 18 crowd. I’m able to get a job, and college is more exciting than high school. Even though I did start with community college, it beat the pants off what was said to be “the best four years of my young life”. People always put high school on a pedestal, but I just can’t get on that band wagon. My high school was actually a good one, considering how bad some can be. Friends who had transferred in had horror stories, and the news showed me how lucky I was. I even enjoyed myself sometimes despite teen angst. I have distinct memories of happy times, but the bad ones are there too. I don’t want to bash those formative years, but I also don’t want to go back.
Open doors: New opportunities await. Photo by Katelyn Avery.
Enjoying the present is an underrated activity. It’s something I partake in, and I’m all the better for it. Its how I have good times to remember, without reminiscing too much. There are parts of “growing up” that I want to take in fully, as they are gifts in their own way. That’s why I don’t tell young kids about how they’ll miss “these days” or to “enjoy it while you can”. Every year I experience something new. A secret in life that only my age group and up fully understands. One of the most recent surprises was realizing turning 21 doesn’t have to mean bars and clubs. It can mean blogging, reading and being the once rejected label of straight edge. Getting older means I don’t have to care as much about what others think. My brain just works differently, and that gift has caused me to look ahead, not back.
Of course, it’s not always a glamorous path, as I walk through the aging process. Although I’m well aware that I’ve barely made it past the starting gate. The gunshot to say go still rings in my ears. I just don’t want to lead anyone on, so I will admit there will always be regrets. Some things I didn’t get to experience, but then I remind myself, I can experience those things now. Not every door is open, but their all in sight. The chains of childhood don’t weigh down on me, and I really am free. Well more free than any minor. I’m old enough to do things for myself now, without any worry for obstacles. I can dream. I can picture a better future, because honestly, things have gotten so much better, and I expect them to keep getting better. At least for a while. To me growing-up deserves the spotlight, not the cane. Now that I don’t crawl behind furniture I need a new adventure. Whether you call it growing up or aging, that is my new adventure, and it’s one I’m willing to go on.
– Katelyn Avery