As I recall the mountains of laundry, piles of books that need reading and the heaping tons of unread emails in my poor Outlook account, I can say with certainty that I am not yet an adult. But I am also not a child (despite my actions). I cannot remember when exactly it was suddenly not as acceptable for me to go to school holding my mom’s hand tightly in one sweaty fist and my unicorn Pegasus lunchbox in the other, but at some point it was decided that I had to start walking into scary new places full of strangers by myself.
As I think about my transition from child to adolescence, I realize experience is what shaped and pushed me through that journey of maturing. I did not have one dramatic defining experience that signaled the end of my childhood. Rather, I would say the end of the phase of my childhood was more like a gradual peeling away of a fun and glittery film through which I saw the world to show the harsher lens underneath over the course of a few years.
I feel sad as I recall memories of my childhood self. In all honesty, I miss the childhood me. Although I was ignorant of all the stares and gawking I received while prancing around the grocery store in my mother’s dress and my fairy princess wings and tiara, I was blissfully happy. I was content in my knowledge of the world and my place within it—which mainly consisted of searching for various mythological creatures while trying to escape the drudgery of household chores before supper.
My childhood world was very small and limited in knowledge of the adult world, but it was a magical place in which I had complete control and confidence. I believe I regard my memories of this imagined world with a tinge of sadness because I am feeling the loss of my childhood confidence.
I can still remember when I first recognized in ballet class that I was different from all the other girls—shorter and wider around the hips, and not as graceful. Even my clothes were different with my various thrift store finds that made do in place of brand-new dance clothes. My pillar of self-confidence that up until then had been such a constant in my life started to crack. I stopped going to ballet class, I started thinking about what the girls around me at school were wearing, and I left my tiara and fairy wings at home. Experiences like that one, where I was gradually becoming more aware of other people and their opinion of me and how I fit or did not fit into their expectations, those were what eventually pushed me past the state of childhood. But does the end of childhood mean you have to become more self-conscious and less confident in yourself? That seems to be rather unexciting a prospect.
The ideals of our education system certainly put a lot of pressure upon young pupils, portraying them as ‘future leaders of our country.’ When I think of the futuristic goals education programs have for children, I see methods of socialization that force children into a state of “wait and grow up.” They are treated as almost half-humans, unable to do all the things adults can do, but also not entirely without social responsibilities and duties. Our society assumes various levels of incompetence within children depending on their ages, and assigns them the social responsibility of mandatory education on how to become adults in order to cure that incompetence. But children are fully human and have just as much value as full-grown adults, and they deserve to be treated as children and not pressured into growing up as quickly as they can in order to attain that lofty goal all schooling seems to be pushing us towards—adulthood.
Drake said he wasn’t hiding his kid from the world, he was hiding the world from his kid. Maybe that is because the current world is a place where children do not belong. Maybe my transition from childhood to adolescence contains feelings of sadness and loss for me because I felt pressure from those around me to conform to a certain ideal, an ideal that made me feel like I should leave my fairy wings at home.