Peter Pan Syndrome: The Fear of Growing Up by Klara Kurti ('17)

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For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a grown up. I remember being eight  years old and getting upset because I had a bedtime. I would think to myself, “it must be awesome to be an adult, you get to stay up as long as you want.” On weekends, I would purposely stay up until my parents went to sleep, then quietly close their bedroom door to go watch T.V. in the living room. Of course, now that I’m 21 years old, I wish I could go to bed by nine. Then, I went through a phase where I resented my babysitter for making me take a nap. Now, ask any young adult, they would pay a fee to take an afternoon nap. It’s strange, when you grow up, you end up loving everything you hated as a child. You like sleeping, baths, eating vegetables, and even going to school (if you’re a nerd, like I am).

When you’re young, you have the vision of the world, that nothing can hurt you and that you’re invincible. You hang upside down on the monkey bars, ride a bike without knee pads, run into traffic, and play with scissors to give yourself haircuts (which I’ve attempted, multiple times). You have no sense of danger because you’re always protected by your parents and caregivers. Even when you fall down and scrape your knees, you have someone next to you to make it all better. If that doesn’t work, you have someone to buy you ice cream and toys. However, when you grow up, not only do you have to physically take care of yourself, but mom and dad won’t buy you ice cream anymore. I know because I’ve tried. On top of all that, you have to worry about emotional pain because you understand there’s more to the world than what is shown. You learn about poverty, loss, violence and disease. You learn that your parents can’t protect you from the world anymore.

Then, you also realize you have to get a job in order to support yourself because you realize your parents are getting older and can’t support you the way they used to. So, you either have to marry a rich man or if you’re an independent woman like I am, you find a job you enjoy. Then comes paying your own bills, making your own doctor appointments, paying taxes, and doing your own homework. On top of all of that, you also learn that you eventually have to move out of your house and live by yourself, away from your parents. Can you imagine living in a home or even a state without your parents? I can’t. When you grow up, you somehow just come to a sudden realization that you have to take care of yourself and if you don’t, most likely nobody else will. That’s an extreme way of looking at it, but there is a lot of truth to it. You go from being told what to do by your parents, to making important life decisions for yourself. Your responsibility also increases as you begin focusing on your future.

For the longest time, I put off thinking about the future because I thought I had a lot of time until it arrived. But the future has a funny way of sneaking up on you. Today becomes yesterday, tomorrow becomes today, and the past turns into a sea of regret. I can’t remember where that quote is from, but there is so much truth to it. One day you just wake up and you suddenly are aware of how old you are, how many responsibilities you have and that you have nowhere to hide anymore because it’s no longer a game you’re playing. When I started my first day of undergrad, I thought I had a lot of time before graduation but I took one blink and I only have 8 months until I graduate. I thought that by now, I would have it all figured out. I thought by 21, I would know who I would marry, which graduate school I would attend, and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, occupation wise. But, surprise, I don’t have anything figured out and although there is only a small percentage of people that have it figured it out by this age, I somehow feel like I’m alone in all of this. In the next couple of weeks, I have to apply to graduate schools and decide what I want to do for the rest of my life. If you know me, you’d know that I’m the most indecisive person out there and I can’t even make my mind up about little things, yet alone my whole future.

The final point I’m trying to make with all of this is that you can’t prolong the future. You can avoid it as long as you want, but you will reach a stage in your life where you will need to be prepared for what happens next. So, if you’re a freshman, sophomore, or junior, I strongly advise all of you to take some time to explore your passions, talents, and interests. You can’t avoid adulthood, but you can make it a little easier. Once you realize what you like, making decisions about the future become easier. Planning for the future won’t intimidate you as much because you have a better understanding on yourself. Always remember: you don’t have to cut off your childhood cold turkey. You can still ask for help and watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. However, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that having a plan gets you places faster. Most importantly, enjoy your undergrad because it's the childhood of adult life.