Thoughts on Growing Up & 2016

Dear readers,

Happy 2017! It has been a while, but this distance will become a bit more common as I combine working with various activities from my doctorates programme. Just to give you all a little update, I spent most of November and December working and studying, and the last part of December and beginning of January in the gorgeous country of Sweden. I will write more about that later, but now, I wanted to give an update on some of my thoughts, and things I’ve been dealing with nearing the end of 2016 and into this new year, which I’m hoping to be hopeful for.

I think we all can agree that 2016 was a little bit like a horror film, and judging by the many jokes, memes, and an actual 2016 “horror movie trailer” I guess it’s easy to say most of us found the year quite horrific. However, I had a lot of wonderful things happen to me personally in 2016 which I’m grateful for, so even if I wanted to call the year awful, for me, it really wasn’t. In 2016 I went to Madrid, I travelled to different towns around my new city, I moved into a lovely flat on the greatest street in Valencia, I went to the beach in Alicante, I hiked a mountain to a castle in Xativa, and I wrote some nice songs. I finally got accepted into the PhD programme of my dreams, I made new friends, I ate new things, I read Persuasion, I taught many English classes and wrote a few articles. I played at a gig and had a great time, and most interesting of all I met an amazing guy that I never thought I could meet. I ended 2016 in Sweden, a place I had been wanting to go to ever since I can remember, and I said goodbye to 2016 on the city roofs of Stockholm watching fireworks and embracing someone I love. 2016 was not a bad year. I’m sure if we all look through some of our own personal moments, we can find some gems to hold on to. However, 2016 was a difficult year for the world… and of that I have nothing to say other than it quite sucked. All of the awful world events that occurred during the last 4 months of the year, and even continuing into the beginning of this year, are events that have left me displaced, confused, and quite scared to be honest. I’m trying so hard to hold on to the peace of God in these trying times, but the truth is, the world feels like it’s actually ending. Which brings me to a discovery I made at the end of 2016 which has become even more clear to me now on this eleventh day of this new year: I’m terrified that I’m beginning to feel like a grown-up.

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I’ve come to the dreadful conclusion that a lot of the sadness and anxiety I’ve been experiencing which has been trailing in from last year, come with the inevitable doom of  feeling that I can’t keep clinging on to my childhood like I’ve tried to for the last 5-6 years. This year, I’m starting to feel like an adult, and frankly… I don’t love it. Before anyone goes on a rant about responsibility and reality, this goes beyond that. This is more of a feeling; an aching, stomach dropping, empty sort of sting that I’m going to try my best to describe. The closest I can relate this to is with the day I lost my excitement for playing with Barbies. I loved Barbies as a kid, I used to dye their hair with markers, and plan pretend parties, and weddings with them, I used to run home and dump them all on the ground and dress them up, put on fashion shows -I couldn’t wait to spend time playing with my dolls. I was definitely a “late-bloomer” if that’s what you want to call it, but I’d like to say I was more of a “long-lasting child”. Even at 12 and 13 when my peers were already talking about boys, I had no interest in all that. I was still happily imagining worlds, drawing non-stop, and playing with my Barbies. It wasn’t until about age 14 or 15 that I really became different and you could see any change in the way I saw life. Around this age, my Barbies had slowly disappeared from my daily imagination routines, and progressively the corners of my room were filling up with different nail polishes, and make up books. Think Toy Story 2 and the depressing scene of Jesse the cowgirl doll and the depressing song that went along with it. All I know is that one day my mom casually (and without knowing what impact her words would have) said the following: “Hey! You’re not playing with your dolls anymore, why is that?” I was stunned in my tracks, as I realized that I didn’t have an answer for that. The truth is, I hadn’t thought about them, they had naturally disappeared from my mind, and just like in the film “Inside Out” I had somehow deleted those beloved Barbie memories permanently, I had no affection for them anymore. Where there was once joy and excitement to see them, nostalgia and fear now dwelled. I began to cry, and my mom was as confused as I was, I ran to my Barbies in some sort of attempt to pick them up and hold them like I used to, to tell them that I could still imagine worlds with them, that I could still plan fashion shows and battles… but it was no use. It was like trying to turn on a machine that had been broken for years, I no longer saw them the same way and there was nothing I could do about it. I grew up, and it felt odd.

I feel like 2016 was that Barbie moment of a year, and now in 2017 I’m attempting to cope, battling to keep calm, as I process the fact that I’m feeling this way. I don’t feel like I can keep milking my childhood for all it’s worth anymore, I’m looking at the world and I’m understanding what is happening with every inch of my being, I’m watching my own life  and the lives of others around me, and I’m seeing how it’s only going in one direction, and that direction is towards age, towards growth, and responsibility. It scares me, I can say that, can I? I’m scared that more so than “growing up” I’m feeling “grown-up”. I fear that I don’t feel like the youngest in my family anymore, or like the youngest amongst my peers like I always was. I know I’ll always be my sister’s little sister, but I’m not feeling so little anymore. I’m not feeling like her and I are so far apart in age and understanding that she has to explain things to me in a gentler and younger version in order for me to understand like she used to. I understand now. People see it as normal for me to do the things that adults do, to have those responsibilities they have, to drink too much coffee because indeed I am sleepy a good 20 hours out of the day. People have asked me if I have children, and even when those moments occur  when people think I am 13 or still in high school (because I look very young for my age), I’m no longer getting mad. I’ve somehow naturally gotten to that point my mom used to warn me about. She used to always tell me that one day, I’d be grateful that I look younger than my age, and somehow it has actually happened. I’m starting to feel like the future life I imagined as a kid is here, and if there is a future after that, I’m having a hard time imagining it, and perhaps the feeling of “arriving” is just something I don’t cope well with in any scenario. I’m a journey person, I love the idea of a journey because it is still a process, there’s still a chance. I know that I’m still on a journey and that we all are, but still, it’s feeling less like one and I don’t know how to feel about that. There is so much I still want to do, so much I wonder if I’m already late for. Five years ago I could have changed my life’s path, I could have changed where I was going, but now I don’t have as much time to do that. Ten years ago I was still a child, and even though I already had a Bachelor’s degree, I could have gone and gotten another one, I could have moved somewhere else, had another life, had other dreams, I could have done more, seen more. I just feel like growing up feels so settled, it feels so stable in an unstable way. It makes you feel like anything you say will be combatted by an invisible comment or voice that reminds you of your “place”, a place that you never really asked for. Growing up feels like there’s a giant invisible dragon flying around that we all have to defeat, but we aren’t even sure how to defeat it if we can’t even see it. Growing up feels like you understand things that you really don’t want to understand, your innocence goggles are taken off and you’re looking at the world and at people for what they really are and it’s too difficult to hide behind idealism, because the truth is, life is harder than you ever thought it would be.

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I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m currently coping. I’m not doing so great at times, and at other times my “adulting” activities keep my mind too occupied to sit around and ponder about the mysteries of the universe, and whether time exists or not. But for now, I’m turning off CNN because it’s making me throw up, I’m accepting the fact that there are some things I do have control over, like whether I spend my free time reading news articles or watching funny cat videos on YouTube, or whether I shop for basic grown-up pajamas or Hello Kitty ones. I think my choice is obvious.

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