“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” – Chili Davis
I’ve been in my 20’s for about four years now, and yet I still feel the same as I did when I was a teenager. Sure, I’ve learned some important lessons along the way and I’ve been taking care of myself for quite some time now. However, when I was younger I always saw people my age much older and more mature than I see myself now. Adults seem so otherworldly when you’re a kid.
When I look in the mirror, the child with an overactive imagination and deep love for all things Sailor Moon looks back. If I’m being perfectly honest, it doesn’t bother me. It’s not that I’m clinging to my childhood – it’s simply the essence of who I am. My interests haven’t stayed stagnant over the years. I have new hobbies such as yoga, meditation, and trying my best to grow a green thumb. Even with my developing hobbies and my ever-increasing age, I still don’t see why I have to give up certain loves I’ve carried with me from childhood. Do we tell children to cling to their early years because we secretly miss it being socially acceptable to still have the same loves as we did when we were 10 years-old? I say, watch your favorite cartoon shamelessly.
Honestly, I wish I could say I’ve kept every bit of the wonderful imagination I had when I used to play ‘the floor is lava’ with my siblings. Every place I wandered into – church, my bedroom, school classroom or backyard – never was quite as it appeared. Through my eyes, it would transform into something new that my mind whipped up on the spot. My name was never permanent. Back then, I assumed countless identities over the years and, when I pictured what I looked like in my head, something different was conjured than the blonde-haired blue-eyed version everyone else saw.
I’ve grown into my name now and I seem to critique my body every time I gaze into my bathroom mirror. I’m aware of how everyone else sees me and I wonder whether or not they like me instead of focusing on what’s more important: whether or not I love myself. My childhood-self wishes that I’d focus on my own happiness and being the kind of woman who dominated the fictional stories I whipped up.
Although I’m still working on keeping that kind of carefree confidence and sense of wonder, my love for reading, writing and fantasy are intact (as well as Pokemon and Sailor Moon.) Fantasy has always captured my mind and played around with my thoughts. The very idea of fantastical worlds with countless possibilities is enough to get my brain to leave reality, if only for a short while. Letting my thoughts wander to another land that’s yet to be created is the best of escape from getting crushed by this life and all its responsibilities. That’s why as I grew up, I devoured books as fast as my Father could take me back to Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million to get my hands on another slice of a different world (and a cup of hot chocolate.)
When I arrived at college, people often asked my roommate if something was wrong with me or if I was constantly angry. Walking on campus, I’d keep my headphones in my ears and I’d develop a serious form of tunnel vision as I’d walked to my next class. I often passed by people I knew who’d wave hello at me and I’d never give them a first glance. That severity of getting lost in music, creating new stories and music videos in my head to my favorite songs perhaps wasn’t the safest way for me to get around campus. I think I used my fiction writing class as an excuse to get lost in the music and let a whole set of different images dance before my eyes.
I’m 24 years-old now and I have a “big girl” job, or so I’ve heard. My phone case is covered in unicorns and glitter and the background is Sailor Moon. The spare room is littered with Pokemon plushies, I’ll snuggle myself into my Pikachu onesie whenever it gets chilly, and my nerd-meter goes off the charts every time a new Pokemon game comes out (I’m looking at you Nintendo Switch, don’t think you aren’t my next big purchase.)
While I enjoy a well-decorated room, I don’t mind not having a home that appears to be picked straight from a catalog. In fact, one of the spare rooms I’ve taken over for myself probably looks to most people like it was decorated by a child. I know I’m quirky and I still enjoy things I was supposed to have grown out of long ago. I don’t mind being young at heart and I honestly prefer to stay this way. While people are worrying about what’s completely out of their control, I hope I’m still getting fascinated about the way raindrops will create patterns on your skin through the car window as you pass under a streetlamp.