Saturday, May 12

Growing Up (Pt. 1): Maturity

Now that it's summer, I've found myself taking a few breaks here and there in between all of the tasks I have. An as with every summer, I've been taking inventory of my life -- what I've accomplished, how I've changed, the friends I have now. I guess most people do this during New Year's or something, but I usually reserve this for the summer, when I have ample time.

One of the things I've realized during these reflections is that I'm still a kid. Kind of. 

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Now that it's summer, I've been going outside and have been setting aside time to see people, especially in light of the fact that I'll be abroad after this month. And when it comes to my friends, it feels like I attract different people with one common feature: we are all silly (or, preferably, child-like) in some way.

On Friday, I met up with a bunch of friends, and we had cucumber sandwiches and blew bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. And some people asked, "What's the occasion? Why the bubbles?" with one of those Aren't you too old for these things? looks.
And I looked at myself -- an incoming college senior -- and thought about all of the childish things I do: I blow bubbles, I go on the playground and (admittedly) hog the swings, I dance in public, I get excited and wave my hands around like a kid who needs to be tranquilized, I run around grocery stores and pick up anything that's packaged in bright colors, I play with sidewalk chalk and may or may not enjoy hopscotch (not that there are more advanced forms of entertainment at my disposal or anything), and I love (adore, worship, salivate over, etc.) shiny objects.

The sad part is that I'm not even one of those people who are desperately trying to stay young at heart. I feel like my brain didn't develop after childhood or something, really -- after the age of seven, my brain just said, "Okay. None of this adolescence stuff. No way -- puberty's icky, and you are going to remain a kid forever because I'm too lazy to keep growing. You will forever have borderline ADD when you encounter bright colors and shiny objects. Good luck with life."

I think I even embarrass my relatives sometimes. One day, my aunt took me with her to do qigong in the park. It was a really nice experience, though it was crazy tough. Afterwards, we went to the bathroom to change out of our gross clothes and to freshen up a little before heading back. This was when I realized that there was a swing set at the other end of the park. And as soon as she came out, I started sprinting towards the playground and yelled to my aunt that she'd be able to find me there.
Now, you have to understand that swing sets aren't necessarily a common feature in every park in Hong Kong. And when they have them, they're always meant for children -- they either are the toddler swings, aren't wide enough for the butt of an adolescent (or anyone older), or hang really low on the ground.
And the swings I had found turned out to the last kind, so I awkwardly maneuvered the swings, trying not to hit the ground every time I went back and forth.
My aunt, when she caught up to me, shot me a disapproving look and asked if I was still a kid. And I could tell that she was a bit embarrassed to be seen with a college student on a swing.

But it's not really that I'm immature or anything, or so I'd like to think. When I was younger, I had a reputation for being mature. Family friends would always say that I was very well behaved and polite, and they would comment about how they felt like they didn't even have to actually do anything when they babysat me. I know how to conduct myself, and I believe in propriety.

I think, however, that it all boils down to the fact that I don't want to waste my opportunities to be happy. I love running around on playgrounds (hence my love for amusement parks, which are basically acres of giant slides and swings and spinning machines. And they have bumper cars. I love bumper cars).
I don't want to pass by a swing set in the park and say, "I'm too old for that. I'm too old to have fun." I want to live in the short amount of time I have. I want to be happy with the things I've done, the things I'm doing.
As I grow older, I know that I'm only going to get busier and more stressed. But life's short, and I don't want to waste it. I want to enjoy the time I have. And if I enjoy doing things that aren't going to harm people, I don't see why I shouldn't.
So if you want to find me, look on the playground or in the park. I'll be the one with chalky hands and bubble-stained shorts. I'll be the one with the smile.

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