"So many people grow up to enjoy adulthood because it is better than their childhood, or they forget all together how great childhood was. I chase my childhood every day." --Brooke Shaden

As a little child, the "Big girls" were always my hero. I remember that distinct, fluttery feeling in my stomach when I plopped myself down on the high-school bleachers. The giddy cheerleaders, their hair pulled up in high ponytails and big smiles plastered on, were thrilling to my 7 year old soul. It was like watching a Disney World parade (just minus the lights and princesses and fireworks and with screechy bleachers and high-schoolers and crappy nachos instead). I remember watching Mary-Kate & Ashley in Holiday in the Sun, and just staring in complete awe. Their adventures as teens in the Bahamas, having their own suite, tanning and flirting with early 2000s savvy boys, and saving a yacht from crime all seemed pretty sweet to me. I remember a scene from running into a family friend in the library: "Anna Gray, you're growing up so fast! How old are you?" "Only eight." I remember fighting the presence of my childhood to grow up. I would often daydream about becoming a teenager; a "Big girl", if you please. Sometimes I would fix my eyes on the gold trimmed closet mirror and wonder, "What will I be like when I'm a teenager?" Would I be tall and have lots of freckles? Would I have dark hair and tan skin? Would I be a cheerleader? A singer? Would I be hyper? Sugary sweet? I was curious, and I wanted to grow up...and fast.

I remember waking up as a 13 year old, a teenager, a "Big girl." After years of anticipation, the time had come. Makeup and concert tickets and my first pair of "heels" and other "big girl" things made their way into my life. It was all good, yes, but I still didn't feel quite like the teenager I had always imagined. This could be partially due to the fact that I only wore the same 4 dresses, got cute haircuts and never styled them, and was too small for even a training bra. I remember calling my best friend and the two of us daydreaming about getting jobs and our licenses and going shopping without an adult and having cell phones and wondering what life would be like once we turned 16. So close, yet so far. It's funny how time slips by. I remember waking up as a 16 year old. The camera lens I worked so hard to save for happened to arrive that day. We went to the lake that evening to celebrate, and I remember the cookie cake and exact design and color of the candles that I blew out. I can almost smell the candle smoke - It has that distinct, sharp aroma - the smell of celebration and new beginnings and...well...happiness. I remember walking around the beach the following week and feeling this strange twinge of sadness. I suddenly didn't like this "growing up" and being a "big girl" thing. If only time could be paused. I remember it being dusk and the feeling of loneliness settling in. It wasn't that I was physically alone, but I felt as if my mentality was splitting in two, leaving half of me in reality, and the other half nostalgically reflecting on the past. I didn't think anyone would be able to quite understand these thoughts, and it made me feel lonely. Memories from past birthdays and the innocence of childhood started creeping in. Why in the world did I rush my childhood? If only I could have told my 8 year old self that the years would slip by so quickly. If only I could step back into my childhood for a few, sweet minutes. Weren't those the days that we didn't have a care in the world; the days that boys and girls had cooties and make believe and taking bubble baths with your friend was completely normal and summer days were spent in the hot sun, feet in dirt, and playing with the freedom of imagination until sunset? What happened? Where did it go? It was too much. "I don't want to grow up anymore."

I remember waking up as an 18 year old. Something felt different though. Minus the fact that my hair looked like a bad 80s cut that morning, I was basically in a happy medium. Legally being an "adult" didn't completely excite me, but it didn't completely scare me either. Although I boasted days and weeks prior, "I WILL LEGALLY BE A WOMAN", I simply felt content. "Yay for my first cigar and exotic pet and elopement in Switzerland without my parents' consent!" I realized that, sure, I was growing up; but, BUT - I still had the free spirit of my childhood along with it. I wrote on my Facebook newsfeed on my 18th,

"Though I'm technically considered an 'adult' (And could legally adopt a kid. Weird.), I don't feel any older - I still feel like the same AG that chases childhood. For example, this afternoon I swam in the ocean with a dolphin printed boogie board and for dinner, ate nothing but a basket full of hush puppies and a sweet tea. I think this 'growing up' thing will be okay after all."

I think that so often, we either fight to grow up, or we have this intense fear of growing up and long for childhood instead. It's like there is this assumption that growing up and adulthood means that we can no longer have fun, slow down, or even enjoy life. Now I am not saying that we shouldn't strive for maturity - there is a point in time when we need to ditch the Spaghetti Os and living under Mommy's roof for a taste of the real world - but we shouldn't diminish that spark of childlike eagerness that runs in our blood. We need to learn that it is okay to have that zeal of a child. Let's allow our bodies to grow and mature, but let's also allow that eagerness to grow with us.

Here's to chasing childhood.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Anna, I just love the way you write. And I love this post. So true. Your last paragraph was my favorite.

    Here's to chasing childhood!



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