This week, I will turn 23. For a while I was scared of that fact, since I really enjoyed being 22. I learned a lot. It was fun, scary, sad, lonely, joyful, and captivating. But since I am not in Neverland, I cannot say 22 forever, nor can I go back to being 7.
This time last year, I was in a dark place where I didn’t think I would have a job, I was terrified of moving and leaving my friends, and I thought my life was over. This week was the job interview that changed everything. This week was the anniversary of the day I was accepted to graduate school, on my birthday, of all days. This was the week that changed everything for the better. I grew up a lot this week.
Then December came. I already loathe winter, but it was made even worse by the fact that I graduated college and then my dog died the next day. Adulthood came upon me too fast, and I was unprepared for it. Throwing myself into my new job and my dream of becoming a children’s librarian, I devoured children’s books and films, rekindled my love for Disney films into a blaze that consumed me to the point that could quote my favorite films without thinking about it, even if I had not seen the film in years.
Then I joined my new church, where at first I felt out of place, like a carton of eggs on a bread shelf. Occasionally, I still feel like I don’t belong. But then I remember why. I never feel out of place with certain people in the group (shoutout to Katrina and Shannon in particular), but with others I will never belong. Yet those are the ones whose approval I tried all these months to gain. It seems silly, looking back on it now. But now I realize it is all part of the growing up process.
I will never stop acting like a child. I will never grow up. If growing up means I must become boring, angry, and bitter like so many adults I know, then I want no part of it. When Shannon and I went to Fallingwater this week, all I could think about was a magical fairyland deep in the woods. Come on, even the name has an other-worldly feel to it.
Call me crazy, but I prefer to believe that unicorns exist because the idea of them makes me happy. I like to think that somewhere out there is a dragon I can tame so I can ride it and cut my commute to work. I love the idea that a fairy tale is out there for me. I don’t mean the prince charming-happily-ever-after foolishness. Instead, I believe in magic. I believe in a pure, unadulterated, childlike wisdom that only comes with innocence and the desire to know more about the world, an Alice-like curiosity that cannot be satisfied. Yes, I am about to turn 23. But I will never, under any circumstances, allow myself to grow up. To forget what it is to be a child is to forget how to live. If you want to become old and bitter, go right ahead. I choose a life of joy and freedom.