“It’s everything about this age,” I replied to my brother when he asked what was wrong during a midnight phone call. “It’s just…scary. It’s scary because I actively feel myself growing up. I feel my perspective changing each day. I feel my new, more matured view of the world coming to mind. I see the ways in which my friends are changing. All these changes are zooming by, and I don’t even have a chance to stop them”.

 He then replied, “Yeah. I guess it’s like…emotional growing pains”. And you know what? That’s exactly what it is. Emotional growing pains.

Identity. Changing relationships. Death. Illness. Heart-break. Loss. Distance. Future. Junior year of high school has consisted of staring at these things in the face, up close and personal. A better seat for the show than I wanted. And to put it simply, it’s scary! None of us know who we are, all of us are changing as every new experience flies by, and suddenly we’re forced to make decisions about our futures. 

It’s not just observing these changes that make my heart break for my childhood. It’s seeing the effects these things have on myself, and on other people my age. These new perspectives cannot be undone. We are older and wiser. But we will never be the children we once were. I see the age growing in my friends as each day goes by. I see the different ways to approach things, for better or for worse. I see myself in the mirror and think of my inner child, how much more knowledge I have than her. I know that every perspective I have now is necessary and good. But things are not as simple as they once were.

What prompted this deep reflection, was a fun evening I shared with friends. We talked about our lives, our new perspectives, our ever-changing identities, and our futures. I then began contemplating my own growth, and that of my friends. Just the thought of how different our perspectives and relationships with each other were a year ago, versus what they are today, kind of…well, it kind of broke me. Oh my God. I thought. Are we…growing up?

You could say, well duh, Liv, everybody grows as the years go by. But I never thought it would happen this fast. One day we’re children, and the next we’re not. The next, we watch adults suffer, in ways we never truly understood until now. The next, we see new dynamics form amongst ourselves. The next, we bystand as old playground-friends turn into someone new. The next, we struggle with our own identities in ways we never have before. And just like that, we’re different. We’re changed. We’re older. We’ll never be the same ignorantly blissful children who ran in the yard, unbothered by anything that didn’t bring us joy. 

I’d be lying through my teeth if I said it didn’t scare me. It’s scary to see everyone around you, including yourself, grow at rapid speeds. Even the wonderful and amazing new perspectives and experiences that anyone would rejoice about. They’re scary. They’re scary because…now that we’ve entered this rapid time of growth, is there really a way we can ever gain back our innocence? Our ignorance? Our plain old joyful stupidity? Believe me, I know for a fact that I will continue to be making mistakes, and grow as a person as each day goes by. But right now, 17 feels like the most formative year of my life.

These emotional growing pains are not easy. They’re exhausting. They’re annoying. They’re even heart-breaking. But they are shaping me into the real-life, adult human I will become just around the corner. And that’s good…right? 

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