Growing up sucks. I think everyone would tell you the same. I’m not sure why I was so excited as a kid when I thought about growing up. Maybe it’s because I thought there’d be a lot of freedom and that happiness would fall from trees. Money too.
When I was a kid, my friends and I used to love strong winds that would create chaos in our hair. We would run around and pretend we were superheroes. We tied the arm of our jackets around ourselves, pretending the jackets were capes and the wind would make us feel like we were flying at supersonic speeds.
Sometimes we’d pretend we were characters from Dragon Ball Z. Ah, how the strong winds meant a lot to us.
Fast forward to last week when Arizona was experiencing incredibly heavy winds. I couldn’t help but go “Damn it, are you serious?”, as I rushed to the nearest building. I’m an adult now and I don’t have the same sense of excitement towards the elements anymore.
How could I go from someone who flew around in the wind with his super-powered buddies to a person who absolutely hates the wind? Oh, I know! It’s because I’m afraid it’ll ruin my perfectly sculpted hairdo for the day. Is there a life quote about how ridiculous that is?
When I was a kid, I didn’t care how my hair looked. In fact, I didn’t care how my hair looked until last year!
When I was a kid, all I cared about was living life and enjoying every second with those I loved. What happened to that kid? Where did this Vincent who cares about his hair or what other people think of him come from? Growing up did nothing but weaken my sense of enjoyment. Sometimes I forget how to be happy.
Now I have moments where I’m insecure. I begin to worry about the very things that my younger self would tell the world “I don’t care!”, in response to the world’s mockery.
Am I talking funny? Is my hair looking exactly the way I left it in the morning? Do my friends still love me? Am I good enough?
I never asked myself these before. Have I forgotten how to stop worrying? Life has this funny way of stripping us of our natural comfort as we grow up. Then it replaces our thoughts with fear of others’ judgment.
That may seem obvious, but how often do you think about that?
I can’t even enjoy running around in the wind anymore because I’ll worry about what others would think of an 18 year old running with both arms ahead. Then I’ll worry about my hair. That’s right, I care more about my damn hair than I do having fun.
It’s funny to reflect every now and then and look at how much we’ve all changed. We’ve got to ask ourselves on occasion, “Am I still happy?”
I remember playing Yu-Gi-Oh cards with my friends during recess. I remember having a hula-hoop contest against one of my best friend’s dad. I even remember getting in trouble for talking to my friend about adult websites when I was in elementary.
In fact, I got in trouble all the time! I did all kinds of risky nonsense as a child and every time a teacher called my name, my heart started pounding faster and faster. I swear, every time my name was called, I thought it was because I’d finally been caught with whatever I was doing that week.
I can’t even remember the last time in recent years that I got in trouble. Maybe growing up gave me invulnerability against trouble.
I no longer take risks or say the things I want to say anymore. I no longer shout random things at the top of my lungs because I’m afraid that a cute girl may walk by and raise an eyebrow at my “uniqueness.”
The one thing I wish I did as a child is journal consistently. I could read through the pages during a rainy day in 2013 and smile at my childish wonder. Then I could learn from it.
I actually did journal for a while as a kid. I won this yellow fuzzy notebook from my elementary teacher. In fact, I still remember what I wrote in it!
An old friend and I promised each other we’d move to Japan in the year 2020 and build robots together. I put a reminder for my future self to move to Japan, on the very last page of that yellow fuzzy notebook. Too bad my friend and I don’t talk anymore. No robot for me.
All of that is gone now and I have no choice but to keep living life, slowly conquering my insecurities with my mental toolbox. I can feel myself getting wiser every day, but that doesn’t make me happier. Then again, I’m still growing up so maybe it’ll get better (or worse!)
Even with all that I’ve accomplished in the past few months alone, I wonder if I’m any happier than I was before. I frequently wonder if I forgot how to be myself.
I don’t have any advice or call to actions I can offer you today, but I do have two questions for you.