James Dockrill ‘22 wrote about his thoughts and feelings on his experience transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Read his piece, titled Time and Time Again.
Time and Time Again
“I’m sorry but you’ll have to wait until you're older to go with your siblings.”
“But MOM!” I would plead, wishing that I could go and be with my sisters.
Remember when we were younger and could only hope to grow up because of all the advantages being an adult would give? All the freedom you get and all the things you get to do? But now at 16 years old, I am sitting here on my beat-up couch in my dark basement, contemplating whether or not I wished for the right thing. Maybe I should have wished to go back to my childhood where I didn’t have any of the responsibilities I have now and just enjoy the simple things in life. Yes being older is great; it gives you opportunities that you can only get once you’ve grown up and matured, like getting a girlfriend or having your own bank account. However, there are so many drawbacks to growing up that it can make you wonder if wishing to stay a kid forever may have been the best option of the two.
The benefits are surely there when you’re older: getting a job to make money, being able to drive and go anywhere you want, or even partying and being able to drink. You get an endless amount of opportunities that allow you to experiment and figure out who you want to be. Growing up shows you how good life can get when you are able to work towards exactly what you want, without teachers or adults telling you what you can or can’t do. You can follow your goals, whatever they may be. You also get to include other people as a bigger part of your life by creating loving relationships with them and maybe eventually starting a family. In starting a family, you get to recreate the process of growing up all over again; wishing to give your children everything that made your childhood so great that you want to go back to it, like the hours of playing in the backyard or the day-long sessions of hockey on the outdoor rink.
Maybe that’s the reason we grow up? And I’m not just talking about reproduction and keeping our species alive. I’m talking about how growing up and getting older allows us to pass our experiences on to future generations by allowing them to experience the same things we’ve done, one day, with someone new. But even then, we have to decide whether or not the drawbacks of ageing and growing up, especially given the current environmental and political climates, are worth putting someone else through again.
There is an irony in my predicament. I’m too young to know what to do because I don’t have the experience, but old enough to know that without any experience I won’t have the tools to cope and succeed in this world. As a child, you didn’t have to worry about anything other than getting a scratch on your knee but even that will only bother you for a couple of minutes. Everything is managed for you. The only stress in your life is deciding who should come to your birthday party or how many chocolate bars you get on Halloween. When I was little, I had my meals made for me, my clothes selected and laid out on my bed, and was even helped with a bath. Instead of an alarm blaring in my ears, I would hear a calming voice telling me to wake up and eat the eggs and toast that were already on the table. Life was predictable and easy. After all, these calm times provide some of our most peaceful places. The places that we go back to when stuck in the stress and anxiety shoved into our faces by everyday life; cause we just have to ‘deal’ with it as a teenager. And at 16, I'm trapped between childhood and adulthood.
As you get older, you get bombarded with assignments, deadlines, standards, anxiety, stress, depression and other mental illnesses many of which control you and give you little control of them and yourself. You are given more responsibilities that sometimes you can’t handle. That may be because we were never taught as kids how to handle them. We were just allowed to have fun and that was that. Now as I get older I notice how people are pushed to their breaking points. That never happened when I was a kid. And these people can be pushed over the line by anyone, including their loved ones. They may not have any clue that someone they care about is even on the verge of breaking. But maybe that’s what’s supposed to happen, maybe it's meant to be like this in order to let us grow, get stronger, wiser and better. But how would I know? I’m only 16. I don’t run the universe nor do I have anything in life figured out for myself.
I’ve only started to understand how much I loved being younger by starting to grow up. I wish I had enjoyed more of what was given to me when I was younger so that I would’ve appreciated how easy my life was. But I can’t rewind time to tell myself that. So now all I can do is learn from it, look forward to the future and continue to make meaningful memories using the past as my guide. I understand now that without an amazing childhood I wouldn’t have anything to help make memories for my kids. The memories of playing hockey with grandpa, going to the beach to catch crabs, or just playing cards in the rain and laughing for no reason. Those moments made me love my earlier years and encourage me to pass them down to my next generation. And that’s why I think we grow up. Through the pain and confusion, we emerge more whole in order to allow other hands to hold our memories as tightly as we once did.