If there is one thing that has emotionally weighed me down time and time again, it is the thought that growing up might as well equal metaphorical death.
There seems to be a certain stigma tied to getting older: that we no longer deserve to make memories or live freely, that we are bound by professional obligations that push youth so far down we might as well give it a tombstone.
I often feel overwhelmed by the need to cram in every experience I’ve ever longed for before I’m whisked away by the hands of adulthood. Here are a few suggestions that have helped me out of this mindset:
Let life happen
We have to stop creating such harsh barriers between our college youth and adult life. Let life happen as it may, and take every experience as it comes.
We have to stop referring to adulthood as this separate entity of impending doom. By continually separating your current self from the idea of adulthood, you only further stigmatize the concept in your mind.
Adulthood is a process; there is no overnight transformation or magic switch to flip. We gradually become accustomed to newfound responsibilities and opportunities alike. We learn to prioritize, to work around schedules and to create memories in unexpected places.
Your ability to find moments of happiness and experience new realms of life is not over — it’s merely adjusting to a change in scenery. Regardless of where life takes you, you’re still you at the end of every day. You still possess the same capabilities that made your youth deserving of such attachment.
Who you are as you emerge into adult life will still sustain the ability to discover light in dark places, connect to others, find humor in daily life or make memories out of moments. The ways in which you have carved your youth to resemble freedom, you will also carve adulthood to resemble passion, drive and opportunity.
The best moments, those we hold as invaluable, irreplicable seconds of time, were never planned. We didn’t plan the night out that resulted in watching the sun come up, or the friendship that bloomed through shared heartache. We never knew that we would get the job we had only dreamt of, join the club we found passion in or meet the person we could never replace. Life just happened, and we were merely living. So, keep living.
Life has no playbook, and you won’t be able to create one. Move forward where life is leading you, and allow yourself the vulnerability of welcoming new experiences, new people and new responsibilities that may not fit the perfect mold of what fun once looked like. As you evolve and grow, your strict definition of what constitutes living life to the fullest will follow suit.
The worst part about growing up is that life does not stop; however, the best part about growing up is also that life does not stop. Nothing — but a chapter — is over for you.
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