Ever since I was 10 years old, hungrily munching on Pixy Stix and Lunchables at prodigious rates, all I ever wanted to be was a grown-up. It didn’t matter how, when or at what cost, but the idea was paradise itself — to be in charge of my own life, to finally buy and wear the forbidden bright green eye shadow — a decision I find myself agreeing with — or to go to an R-rated movie without my parents buying my ticket and ensuring all sorts of embarrassment in the process.
So as my senior year at the College of William and Mary looms, imagine my complete loss for what to think now that growing up comes with a few more complications than I previously had imagined.
First and foremost, at the ripe old age of 12, the prospect of being responsible for my own decisions sounded like the perfect future. In fact, it meant that at some point, I would have free reign to eat KitKats for breakfast, rent and drive a red convertible to California to hang out with Orlando Bloom and stay up until 3 a.m. very night watching Hey Arnold, Lizzie McGuire and Home Alone 2.
Unfortunately, now that I’m in my 20s, responsibility has a slightly different definition. It now means that I have to figure out some reasonable way to fill out my 1040 tax forms, find some sort of income to subsidize my shopping whims and driving habits and, last but not least, innocently forge an “excused absence” note so that I can spend a day lazily on the couch watching Maury and People’s Court re-runs.
I also used to love the idea of growing up and having complete and utter freedom. Whether that meant going to the airport and buying myself a plane ticket to the Bahamas or buying Chinese food and Dairy Queen Blizzards for lunch every day, I imagined growing up as freedom in its truest sense.
Sadly, I now seem to be coming across some limitations as a grown-up too. For example, free time is now a bit of a fairytale, an alternative state of being that in no way exists during the week. If it does somehow fall in your lap, however, it’s usually now wasted on doing the very things I used to find so boring about adults — catching up on emails, organizing my planner or simply sitting on a warm bench in the sun.
Last but not least, at 10 years old, I believed growing up meant having cash — unlimited amounts of it. Instead of having to make do with allowances of seven dollars per week, I would be rolling in the green, struggling each day to stuff my oversized wallet into my even more oversized and expensive purse.
At the same time, I also would also have complete freedom to buy as many racecars, private beaches, unicorns and horse stables as I could ever desire — and then spend my day camping in the mountains or enjoying my Sunny D by a crystal blue pool.
However, even the simplest hope for my very own horse was quickly crushed by financial aid applications, rent payments and, of course, groceries. Even the Lunchables of which I had once dreamed, going at a non-discounted rate of $3.48 per pack, are now a bit too much for my slim wallet and newfound love for lattes and Frappuccinos.
Even though I just ranted on why growing up isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, it’s inevitable nevertheless. So what can we do but make the best of it? In the meantime, whether it’s skipping a few classes this week or taking an impromptu beach trip, the one thing you should never leave behind is your five-year-old self. At the end of the day when there is nothing grown-up to smile about, your smile is the one thing that never changes — and the one thing you should never have a reason to change.
Dasha Godunova is a Confusion Corner columnist, and despite the knowledge that her 11th birthday and subsequent chance to be accepted into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has long passed, works hard to act, whine, complain and laugh like a 5-year old each and every day.