This past week I celebrated my birthday, and, like anyone confronted with the idea of aging, have spent the past few days restlessly excited for the person I’m going to become. As I find myself crawling toward womanhood, this feeling has intensified. 

All of my life, I’ve felt an urgency to grow up faster than I needed to. I’ve been the youngest everywhere –– in grade school I was a year younger than my classmates and a few years younger than the other children within my extended family. Even now in college, I find myself around people that are older than me, and, in an attempt to fit in, I find myself acting more mature than I actually feel like I am. 

I’ve realized that despite my enthusiasm for all of the wonderful glory of womanhood, I’m also finding ways to honor the bits and pieces of my girlhood I don’t want to let go of. These are a few of the things I hope I never outgrow. 

The Tiredness of Being Twelve: [Twelve and Tired ]

The feeling I had at 12, sprinting across the middle school baseball field, biking until the sun sets, or galloping down huge flights of stairs. There was never a particular reason for why I was doing it, except for maybe that I loved the way the speed made my hair fly or, that for just a brief moment, it feels like nothing can catch me. After hours of running and playing and laughing at the park, my entire body felt so worn out that I scarfed down some dinner and drifted into a deep and entirely exhausted sleep. I never want to forget that feeling. I never want to forget that flying feeling met with the exhaustion of wasting all of my energy outside in the sun. I want to be carelessly free on my feet for the rest of my life. 

My relationship with my body

My relationship with my body has never been terrible. All throughout childhood and into high school, I never felt like I had to change anything about the physical aspects of being me because there was never anything wrong with the way my being existed. I was constantly in awe of how it was capable of performing, I never criticized the way the hair grew on my legs or arms, and I fed it when I wanted to. It’s not that I didn’t hear everyone else’s comments about the way I looked, but they always felt like opinions I didn’t need to care about. All of the scars and other “faults” of my body are proof of a life lived and living — how could I ever stop loving that? 

My open and optimistic heart

My friends have this inside joke that I’m the most naïve out of all of us, that my optimism borders on delusion. But, there’s a certain kind of innocence attached to it. I know that I’m expected to grow out of my childish innocence and into the jadedness of adulthood once I’m in the “real world,” but I don’t want to do that. I don’t think there’s anything inherently childish or foolish about believing that things will turn out okay. If it wasn’t for my fierce optimism, I don’t know if I would’ve made it into the third year of a pandemic.

My Untamed Mess of Hair

My high school journalism teacher once said to me, “I could always tell how you were feeling based on how your hair looked.” 

As a kid who used to believe in magic, I think there’s something quite mystifying about how articulate my wild hair is. There seems like there’s so much restriction to the way you can look when you’re a woman, and I’m afraid that doing anything out of the ordinary to my curly hair will disrupt its most natural and expressive state. To leave it the way it is, which is to say, to never rake a brush through it when it’s dry, is to honor my locks. In other words, I don’t think I’ll ever straighten my hair. 

The Volume of My Voice  [ Staying Loud and Keeping My Voice ] 

At any given moment I am fully unaware of how loud I am. Maturity and in turn, adulthood, are often associated with being quiet and precise. A lot of my life, I’ve been told that with time and age I will grow to be more calm and will learn to stay quiet, but I don’t know if I want that. Don’t get me wrong, emotional calmness and a lack of turbulence with my moods is something I am looking forward to, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop talking as much as I do. Even if I do usually end up putting my foot in my mouth, I don’t really understand why silence is deemed admirable, when I have so much to say and so much energy to say it.