It's getting real: Coming to terms with growing up

If I asked a group of kids what they are most scared of I’d most likely hear: bugs, snakes, heights, or dogs. For me, it’s growing up. Nothing scares me more than the idea of everyone I know and love, including myself, growing older, moving away, having new and bigger responsibilities.

10 years from now I will laugh at the fact I cried on a Saturday night I had to miss a hang out with my friends. I will laugh that I cared what I wore more than it really ever mattered. I will laugh at all the little things that I thought were the most important things in the world.

I didn’t realize I was this anxious and scared until the college application process began. I have started my application maybe 100 times now. I keep thinking back to last year, hearing the 2020 seniors emphasize their struggles, but I never thought it would be this stressful. To be completely honest, I thought many of them were being dramatic because how hard can writing a paper and filling out a form be?

If I was able to, I would be apologizing for all of those thoughts right now. The prompts are difficult for me because I can write about almost anything and the idea of showing my “identity” in 600 words seems unrealistic.

While the application process is scary, what will come after is very thrilling: a good mix between scary and exciting. For example, I am really excited to meet new people and be in a new environment. However, I am nervous I won’t make the same connections as I did with people I met in high school.

Everything is getting very “real”, especially when it comes to finances. I have always made sure to have a job, working a fair amount, saving money for college and saving money for things I want to buy in general. While I may seem financially smart, my parents recently had the talk with me about how much college will cost and how I will basically be broke all of college. This was a new concept and while I am not sure what I expected, it wasn’t this that’s for sure.

Let me tell you: saying you’re going to college verses actually looking at how much college costs will really be a deciding factor. In my house, college isn’t an option so they are teaching me ways to be financially smart from the start and for that, I am thankful.

The process of learning how to be a financially stable teenager is close to impossible. It adds a crazy amount of stress to my plate but I know it’s all worth it. My parents made me get a job at 15 since I was always bombarding them for money and never saved any of it. At the time, I was so angry it took the time out of my weekend I would spend with friends and family and now I can’t thank them enough.

I feel so lucky to have gone to this high school because I’ve had so many opportunities to find what I am most passionate about. Our school offers so many different courses for almost any academic interest. If there’s not a course, I guarantee someone started a club for it. I had the chance to join a handful of clubs and once I realized what I loved doing, I took every course related to it.

I joined the journalism programs because I love everything about them and hope to incorporate them into my future career. I joined Spanish, Interact, Class Cabinet and Medical club out of pure interest and I was able to do so alongside my friends. Those clubs and Class Cabinet are such a good way to meet people and do interactive activities with my friends.

I definitely have a newfound appreciation for our high school, and the high school experience in general because of what comes next. High school is kind of like a last chance to be young and not have all the responsibilities and stress of adulthood. I am glad I used all the resources Orange has given me so I can stress less and hopefully be prepared for adulthood when it comes time for graduation.

illustration: Josie Phelan

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