SISTER TO SISTERI Want to Stay a Kid Forever by Maeve Southard-Wray Sometimes I just feel like I don’t want to grow up. I’m 13 and will be going to high school next year but sometimes I just feel like I want to stay a kid forever. What should I do? -Anonymous Growing up is really scary for a lot of people. I’ve had many times where I feel so overwhelmed by a big moment that could mark adulthood. Your feelings are normal. I think a lot of fears about getting older come from the responsibilities and expectations that come with each new stage of life. High school is a big step. There are a lot of social group and friend changes. And, it’s when people start asking what your plans are for your future. There’s pressure to get good grades because you know that the grades from high school matter to colleges when they’re admitting students. Once I started high school, each year became a countdown until COLLEGE. My fears about not being ready grew each year. Something that helped me was sitting down to figure out exactly what worried me. A heavier schoolwork load? Making friends? Exams? Pinpointing particular things that make you nervous can help you figure out how to deal with it. Take the load of responsibilities that you feel will be placed on your shoulders, and sort through them, one by one. It feels more manageable when you deal with them one by one. You can brainstorm ways to get your work done and still have time for fun things you enjoy. Problem-solving aside, I think it is important is to remember that your personality and way of life don’t have to change significantly just because you’ve entered high school. You can still be a kid, and have fun playing, reading, and talking to friends. Growing up is gradual. As you get older and change, your personality and attitude towards life will also change, but it won’t be all at once. You don’t have to lose what you like about being young just because you’re one year older. In our culture and world, we are all constantly facing the future. Everyone has fears about their personal circles and themselves, our world, and the greater human community. Our culture can make it seem that there is only one right way to grow up. For example, in my culture, we’re supposed to graduate from high school, where we perform not just our best, but the best. Then we’re supposed to go on to college where we’re expected to do the same again. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on young people. These feelings of pressure make growing up seem hard and scary. It helps when I remember that no one has to, or should, grow up in one set way. That’s like trying to pinch into a mold that doesn’t fit me. Try to find ways to keep what you love about being a kid intact. Keep playing, reading, and imagining, and being you. Maeve, 18, Pennsylvania, is homeschooled, an experienced violinist, and Sister to Sister mentor for NMG. She likes photography, food, and being political.