Sunday, September 9, 2012

Oh darlin', don't you ever grow up

Think about your childhood. Do you remember your favorite game? Your favorite cartoon show? What would you lie in bed and think about before you went to sleep at night? Did you wonder what you would be like when you were older? Are you currently living up to that standard?

As a kid, I would picture myself all grown-up. I would be an excellent dancer, musician, and athlete, there was nothing that could stop me. I was going to be the perfect representation of a well rounded, skilled, and confident young lady. I've come to the conclusion that I've let myself down.

The dream of being a dancer was short-lived, mostly because I never let it get off the ground. I wanted to be a ballerina, without ever taking a single ballet class. I gave up playing the flute, I was no good and the band director thought I was the spawn of satan. I also can't sing a note, so that was out. Now, being an athlete was different. Being physically fit and playing sports is something that I was going to do if I wanted to or not. My family is chock-full of jocks. However, to date, I've managed to quit tennis, track, basketball, and softball.

So is it safe to say that I haven't become who I wanted to be? I am not even close to the renaissance woman I pictured myself as. Though at this point in my life, I'm one hundred and ten percent certain that I love the person I am. I wouldn't change any mistakes made, or any flaws I believe myself to have. I am me. But...I still can't help but feel ashamed that I let a little girl down.

The novel I chose to read for my AP language and composition class is called "Reviving Ophelia; Saving the Selves of Innocent Adolescent Girls." Briefly, this book is about the author, Mary Pipher, and her findings as a clinical psychologist to young girls. She tells the stories of some of her patients, and the reasons she believes that at a certain age, young girls lose themselves.

What I have taken from it so far is that young girls are resilient, confident and excitable. They play sports, read books, and play pretend. They go outside and actually enjoy being there. The innocence of a child is one of God's greatest gifts, it's  irreplaceable, it's beautiful. But sometime in early adolescence, little girls lose their way. They don't want to be seen with their parents, they care about what people think. They push down their feelings and their ability to express themselves into tiny compressed boxes. Many girls develop eating disorders or even drug addictions to cope with he new set of norms that they're supposed to follow.

Though my story isn't quite as dramatic, I definitely lost myself in my pre-teen middle-school years. There was no direction for my life, there was only trying to get through every day without embarrassing myself or looking stupid. I had no knowledge that God had a plan for me or that He even cared. I would cuss, lie, and do things solely to gain the approval of my classmates. The gangly little girl in overalls was nowhere to be found. All that was left was this stranger who thought that the only way to be accepted was to have stick straight hair and paper-thin shirts from Aeropostale in every color of the rainbow.

After coming to the realization that I'd let myself go, so to speak, everywhere I looked I saw girls at this crucial age. It's even brought me too tears to think that in a few short years, they will be reaching this terrifying tipping point. A good number of them are going to lose their drive and ambition to grow up and be whatever they want to be. It's downright depressing. 

I can honestly say I would give up anything to be a kid again, and to stay that way. If time machines and Neverland existed, you know exactly what I would be doing. Dirty finger nails? Who cares? Still wearing last year's outfits? Why not? Boys at recess are trying to kiss the girls? Eww gross!

I understand that aging is a part of life. And that the little second and fifth grade girls I watch after school will experience it just as I did. Someday she'll get her heart broken because of some punk who doesn't understand what fantastic girl she is. Or she'll get made fun of at school for not having cool enough jeans. I understand that everyone has to go through it, but it breaks my heart.

Thank goodness for Taylor Swift, and her ability to have a song for nearly every emotion you can feel.
This song is called "Never Grow Up," and if you have a special little girl in your life, I'm obligated to warn you that you might bawl your eyes out just a little bit.

So I'm not a dancer, a musician, or an athlete. I'm not currently living up to the standards of the person I thought I was going to be. However, I'm a volunteer, I'm a hard worker, I'm a good student and a good person. I've been down the road of self-destruction and I came back alive and changed for the better. Overall, I think I've done myself proud.  My only hope is that other girls can make it out with at least a small part of that little girl still inside of them.

3 John 1:4
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."





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