I’m twelve years old.
I start a list.
Whenever an adult wrongs me in any way, I write it down.
That way, when I begin the terrifying transformation from child to adult, I will never wrong children in the same way.
I keep that list updated through the years.
As a kid, my enemy is adults. As much as I want to be one, I’m sure that they are all screwed up.
I’m fourteen years old.
I’m a full-blown teenager.
I cry – so much. I spend my nights in my high school dorm scribbling in my diary, poetry, anger filled paragraphs. The lack of space is stifling me.
I’m so lonely, searching for someone who has a mind that is like mine.
The adults in my life that should be my role models are telling me I’m not trying hard enough.
“The only thing I want in life is to be 18,” I write, tears hitting my pillow one late night.
Because adults are not told that they don’t know what’s right, adults aren’t told that they are not good enough.
I’m fifteen years old.
I don’t want to be an adult.
Adults are broken, hurt, distrustful. Adults think they’re better, smarter, more clever. They’re just overgrown teenagers with more power.
My grandmother is sick, and everything is scary. None of the adults are telling me what is going on.
“Screw everyone,” I write.
I’m sixteen years old.
I’m a counselor in a day camp. Two little girls that are my campers are fighting angrily about something. Something so deeply stupid, I can’t even stand it.
I separate them.
I look at them with disbelief. “Kids are so ridiculous,” I think to myself as I turn away from them.
I don’t know where my diary is.
I’m eighteen years old.
I still want to be older. Eighteen is not old enough. There are still so many people who don’t believe in me. Who don’t believe in the youth.
I write on my brand new blog: “Why do I have to spend my life waiting for someone to take me seriously?”
I no longer count the days until adulthood, because I am starting to realize that nobody is an adult. But as I walk into my classroom, as I walk through a park, as I babysit my nephews, I realize I am the adult in each of these situations.
As I cuddle with my nephew to tell him a story, he shows sensitivity and wisdom far beyond his years.
As I listen to my students speak, see their hurt and feel their frustration, I am reminded of the days that I sat at their desks. The anger I felt at those who felt like they had any sort of authority over me.
Real anger. Justified anger.
As I sit at a teachers meeting, I look around in disbelief, the feeling of having snuck into somewhere I don’t belong is overpowering.
I am a child. These are adults. These are the enemies I spent my life fighting against.
How did I become one of them?
As I enforce rules I know are important, my heart breaks, knowing that I am the adult. I am the adult that does not need to explain her actions, who should be spoken to respectfully, who can not cry and show her own weaknesses lest it lead to that respect fading away.
I am torn.
I still feel like the child I was, yet time and experience is forcing me into a role I never thought I’d take on.
I begin to recognize where children err. I understand that teenagers often make bad choices.
I can’t commit, I can’t cross that bridge. I read the list that I began writing when I was twelve years old, and I am reminded. I am reminded that the pain and anger of a child are no less important or real than that of an adult.
I am reminded of the time I told someone that I was having a bad day
when I was a teenager.
The response I received was “How can you be having a bad day when you don’t have to pay taxes, worry about finances, or go to work?”
I am growing older.
I’m never going to be an adult.
My heart carries the child I once was, the teenager I just was, the person I am becoming – and I’ll never let all these parts go.
I will keep looking at my diary, remembering those nights, that pain – I don’t want to be the adult who makes others feel that way.
Sometimes, it won’t be my choice.
Sometimes, you’ll have to follow someone else’s rules. You’ll have to take extreme measures to educate.
But I won’t be the enemy.
In High School I wrote a letter to the future me.
“You might think you’re high and mighty, Future Me, just because you
are older. But your past is important, almost as important as your future.”
As each day passes, I age just a little bit.
I hope I gain wisdom, experience, and responsibility each and every day.
But even more deeply than that, I hope that I never let the child in me down.
Because every voice is important. Every tear-soaked night is okay.
Every soul deserves to know how valuable it is.
Every heart deserves to know that it doesn’t have to wait.
There is no better time to be who you need to be.
Adulthood will come. But when it does, it won’t change anything.
The power is in the youth.
Don’t waste today.
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