The Weight of Growing Up

   The last official day of school for the seniors at my school was a few weeks ago, and
amidst their whirlwind of emptied lockers and bittersweet tears I found myself being swept in with their chaos. It began to feel like it was me that was going to be walking down that stage on Sunday instead of them, and in a way, I was. ­My two remaining years of high school were already beginning to feel like two seconds. I’ve always found it interesting how this time of year always sparks the reemergence of the lingering fear that most of us have been trying to suppress since the beginning of high school-­ that it will be you in a few years that will have to fill in the role of the seniors, that you'll be graduating, that soon you'll be the one leaving everything behind. That day, our lunch table conversation suddenly shifted from the funny class mishaps and mundane school gossip to college applications and graduation. There were some of us that were dreamers, some who were only choosing a certain path to live out their parent's dreams, and some that simply didn’t know what to do with their lives..and I was all of them at once. It's almost like my mind is in a constant game of tug of war and the worst part is no side is winning. The strange part is that there is a eerie detachment from all of it, like I'm not even participating but simply watching from the outside through a thick glass. Every indecisive yet violent tug blurs the line between what I want, what I think I want, and what others want for me. The glass keeps grows thicker as all of the different possibilities and options press their faces to the glass, yelling and knocking, but all I'm left to do is watch in muted defeat. Isolated and helpless, a mere spectator to my own downfall. 
   Teenage years might be the so called best years of your life, but they're also some of the most difficult and decisive years. You're suddenly thrust into the treacherous seas of the real world, brimming with crashing waves of responsibilities and expectations. I can hardly swim, yet every person around me keeps shoving and forcing me into the water, leaving me to drown before I could ever explore the rest of the ocean. There's so much pressure to have it 'all figured out' by the end of high school, despite the fact that almost all of people in their 20s still haven't figured 'it' out yet. I feel like everyone is leaping to their future while I'm still hardly able to crawl. However, I've realized that it is not just growing up that absolutely terrifies me, but also this fear of the unknown. There is a certain distrust in the unknown, in leaving yourself completely vulnerable at mercy of the future. It's funny how those who find great discomfort in the unknown are often the same people to motivate others to follow their heart and dive right into it. So why can't we do the same for ourselves? I wish I could be one of the people that thrive off the exhilaration of not knowing where they are going. I wish I could be like those that have the ability to see the potential for amazing experiences and opportunities that the unknown holds, as well as accept the disappointments that may come in taking that fateful plunge. But other than the fear of the unknown, I feel that growing up makes you both loathe and marvel at the power of time. Sometimes, I feel like time is moving too quickly and I’m being left behind. It scares me that a mere two years can be enough to tear me apart from so many people that I hold dear at the moment, or bring me closer to people I never thought I would talk to. I fear for the time when the days of laughs and smiles turn into straight faces. I fear for the day where there is no time left for pointless adventures and that those blissful nights where I took photographs to savor the pure joy of the memories will become simply just that- ­memories.

Text by Rawan Olma
Visual by Indie Fonkem

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