I haven’t quite realized that I’m a teenager, and I don’t know when I will. I know that my 13th birthday has come and gone, but some part of me doesn’t actually get it yet. I realized this the other day in gym class, while about half of the kids in my grade were waiting to get measured as part of our annual fitness test.
The gym was filled with sweaty eighth-graders running around and making noise. Two of my best friends were bored; someone got the idea to steal my socks. This led to our running around with one another’s socks and notebooks, screaming, “FIGHT CLUB!” every few minutes. Eventually we collapsed on the floor, laughing and trying to catch our breath. That’s when I saw a couple of other girls—girls I have known since sixth grade—watching us, shaking their heads. “There’s a time and a place for being immature,” one of them said. “And now is not the time.”
My playmates and I laughed it off, but I was left worrying if it was true—were we too old to act immature in gym class? Were my sock-flinging and tickling days over? Would I henceforth be forced to sit around with a fake smile plastered on my face, nodding politely at the “mature” conversation topics of my peers—high school admissions test, One Direction videos, etc.?
I keep telling myself that being a teenager—being a human in general—is about having fun when you want to. But why is that so hard to do when everyone around me seems to be growing up so fast? ♦