I do not feel like seventeen. Seventeen means standing on the threshold of adulthood, but I am far from grown. I still curl into myself when I sleep and pull the sheets over my head because I’d rather let darkness in on my terms than be subject to its whims. I still giggle incessantly and fling out teenage slang with every other word I use. I still chase after innocent butterflies that stray in my backyard. I still secretly believe in magic and that the whole wide world is sparkly, shiny, and new. I’m still a possibility, filled with passion and chaos, and I have this entangled mess that rests in the cavity of my chest. I’m not ready to smooth my heart out; I like it like that, all knotted and adolescent.
I once read that adults spend the rest of their lives reminiscing over their youth until they find themselves on the edge of their deathbeds, wondering how life sped by so fast. Aging is like surrendering, and I don’t like giving up. I prefer to do things on my own accord. If I’m honest, I should have grown up a long time ago. Circumstances and things beyond my control dubbed it so. That enraged me at my young age. I don’t like being forced into things, and I decided that I would not grow up until I turned eighteen. I wanted to savor every extra ounce of childishness that I could. I’m currently seventeen, and this was supposed to be my best age yet, but I feel like I am spending more time reflecting than living.
When I was in first grade, I watched the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time. When I finished, I ran upstairs and scribbled on a sticky note and glued it to the back of my closet. Nine years later, I found myself watching the Chronicles of Narnia again. Later that day, I cleaned out my closet until it was completely empty. I peered in and saw a note in the far back. The note said: SIDNEY WAS HERE, JANUARY 25, 2012. My first-grade self thought a person from another realm would someday find my note and ponder about my existence. In a way, I was right. I am universes away from my past, as I’ve learned to make my own world since then. I am who I decide to be, and nothing else can have any say. I wonder if first-grade Sidney realized just how much power she’d end up having over her reality.
I think my seventh-grade self was more aware of this phenomenon. She was thirteen, going on fourteen, with the next two years stretching far beyond her. She was bold, unflinching, unnerving. She could lift the whole world above her shoulders and not stagger once. She wrote a letter to her future self, me. She asked me trivial questions, like if all my friends were the same, if I did well in school, and if I had a dream yet or not. And, lastly, she pleaded with me to write. She didn’t elaborate because she didn’t fully understand it; she just knew it was something she had to do. I wish I could find her again and ask her if this is what she meant. I don’t think she planned on my current self, but I do think that she’d be pleasantly surprised.
Sometimes I think about who I will be. I hope I am someone she is proud of. I hope she is someone I can be proud of. Sometimes I see flashes of my future self when I glance in the mirror. I can feel her within me: a seed that rustles and skims against my ribcage when I breathe. She hasn’t sprouted yet, but I can feel tiny roots taking hold, setting her mark on my future history. She is, in essence, what I look forward to when I think about being grown. I realize she is imminent: three weeks from now and I’ll become her. She will be the accumulation of all my previous selves. I hope my experiences are enough to give her wisdom and that she learns from my mistakes and develops into a better person. But most of all, I hope I’ll still be able to see traces of myself when I become her.
I can’t wait to meet her.