Column: Don’t be a grown up


Stu Mair

Senior Catherine Hathaway’s advice to students is to not grow up too fast.

Catherine Hathaway, A&E Editor

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a series of farewells from some of the seniors on The Red Ledger staff.

The more I age, the more I regress into my childlike state. I’ve been told that at the mere age of 2 years old, I was sitting quietly at the grown-ups table, coloring my menu, and emulating the adults as much as a 2 year old could.

I’ve always been persistent on being treated with maturity and respect. As a child, I believed the only way to achieve respect was to act like the respected. Now, looking back, I realize that the older I get, the less other people’s opinions of me seem to matter, and the more I embrace the child in me the I never really explored.

I was ready to graduate in middle school. I was (and often still am) excited by writing assignments, planning, and to-do lists. I accepted responsibility frequently and eagerly. I thrived on being liked and respected by teachers and adults. I worried less about which Justin Bieber song was the ringtone on my super-cool sliding keyboard phone, and more about keeping busy. I took myself fairly seriously, but lacked the confidence to loosen up and be myself.

My tendency for poise is an unexpected one. I’ve always been surrounded by children, so you’d think I’d absorb their personalities, yet that is not the case. With four younger siblings, I had learned to embrace the role of responsible older sister more than the preferred role of play companion. That was a big mistake.

The older I’ve gotten the more I have indulged in spending time with my siblings and enjoying the things that make adolescence so special. Kids have no qualms with the world. They live off fearlessness and belief. As far as my 6-year-old sister Brooke knows, Elsa lives with her sister Anna in Arendelle (with frequent visits to Disney World), and although many readers could try to reason against this claim, most would fail at breaking her adolescent belief.

At the super-mature age of 18, I’ve found myself enjoying adolescence more than ever. I work at a girly party studio, so my weekends and summers consist of crafting, tiny tiaras and lots of glitter. Instead of dragging my feet on childish vacations, I embrace the opportunity to spend time with the siblings I won’t get to see every day of next year.

Spending time with children allows me to be silly, and creative, and regress to that state of unbarred belief in everything. Whether it’s gushing over beloved Disney characters on our frequent cruise excursions or getting paid to play pretend with 20 young children in tutus, I find joy in the childish. I find joy in believing, even if it’s simply a sliver of myself, that a shirtless mouse runs a 75 billion dollar company.

You try telling a 6 year old that he doesn’t. You won’t like the response.

This is not to say you should squander your professional side or throw yourself into the life of a 6 year old. Everyone needs to know when to turn on the grown-up charm and poise.

But it’s the ability to believe, even a little bit in the magic that a child’s mind creates, that will free you. The ability to be boundlessly creative is one many adults will lose control of as they grow older, but if you can train yourself to capture the warm, achy-heart feeling of being young again, you’ll be able to set your sights far beyond your competitors simply because you believe you can.

It may not be glitter and princesses, it may be Star Wars or Harry Potter or Pokemon, but everyone has something that turns you into a giddy 9 year old again. My advice to you is to find that part of yourself and keep it around because the human world is a mess, and we could all use a little escape to make us feel like fearless kids again.