When You Realize You’re Becoming Older

I can't believe I'm an adult now.

Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw that my young cousin posted a new profile picture. In the comment section, he was having a conversation with his friend. Something about the way he talked felt odd. He didn't sound like a kid anymore.

Being an adult feels weird, but seeing kids around you transition into adolescence feels even weirder. You see them post on social media like you did eight years ago. You realize they're no longer that little kid next door crying their lungs out whenever their mother scolded them. Their heights increase, their voices boom, and the way they interact with people change.

The sight of my once-8-year-old cousin is a rude awakening. My perceived time seemed to shift; almost like a slow-motion scene in a movie, my actual age was cleared out of a blurry spot.

"No crap, I'm 21."

Subconsciously, I’ve lived in the idea that I’ve never really changed that much. This absurd shock divided the bridge between my adolescence and adulthood. It connected me to reality.

I joined Facebook in 2010. I'd post everything, from selfies I thought were cool to cringe-worthy statuses. Fast forward to 2018, I still scroll through my phone gallery and compose text posts for updates. Habits, routines, and familiarity never really detach me from the feeling of being 16 or 18. My age increases, yet somehow I still feel the same. Sometimes I'm still surprised to see that people who were born in 1992 are no longer teenagers.

The speed at which we think time goes by perhaps constitutes to the weird feeling. Research shows that perceived time moves more quickly as we get older, which makes life seem busy and fast. According to the study, it’s because “our brain encodes new experiences but not familiar ones into memory and our retrospective judgment of time is based on how many new memories we create over a certain period.” Meaning, if you’ve spent your day making more new memories, it will seem longer than a day spent in routine.

As we get older, our lives start to follow more strict routines. They hardly present you with new experiences, so time feels short. The past doesn’t feel too long ago. You work. You go home. You work. You go home and by the time you've come across a reality check—a new experience. You realize you’ve grown 5 years older. 

Little moments like seeing my cousin change his profile picture stop the rush for a while. It reminds me that time is real and people grow old. I could grow old. Upon seeing him in a different light, I saw myself differently, too. 

Knowing your age is like writing a paragraph and reading it 50 times. Eventually, it just becomes one familiar chunk of words that your brain stops caring about.

I was looking through an old photo album as I sat on the floor. There's a photo set in which I am leaning on my aunt's coffin along with other people in a church. I look so small and young. I wondered, is that me? That's not possible. That was the last time that I felt like my aunt's death was just yesterday. It connected me to reality.

Realizing that your age slowly becomes one of an older person is like coming back to the same paragraph three days later and reading it as if someone else wrote it. You see it clearly as it is.

It was evening and I was sitting on a bus. I looked at my reflection in the window. I saw tired eyes and a thinner jaw. I wondered, is that me? I looked my age.

Every time my older cousins would like what I’d post and view my Messenger's "My Day" stories, I’d wonder, "Have any of them felt the same way whenever they see me on social media? Do they ever feel weird that I talk so differently and look older now?"

Do they feel that about themselves too?

By Sam Fabian

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