Still Growing Up

For our Scripps Ranch High School column this year, four seniors are sharing the writing duties. This allows the community to get “A Look Inside” SRHS and life as a teen in Scripps Ranch from unique perspectives. This month Docean Park looks at how she has changed since she was a freshman…or has she?! Docean loves to swim and play cello. She says she became a writer at age 7 and wrote about ant people. Now she’s more mature but still struggles to keep her head out of the clouds!

 

When I was a freshman the seniors seemed almost like an entirely different breed of human. Dangling their car keys from one hand, fresh coffee clasped carefully in the other, they seemed such a long way from where we—the little ones fresh out of middle school—resided. I craved that grace, that confidence they seemed to mysteriously possess. I envied their transformation, in both appearance and personality, from mere child to adult. I desired, in other words, the “Official Completion of Growing Up,” which I believed would come naturally as I rose to senior year.

Yet three years later, I find myself—during the first rally of my last school year—in a sea of blue, the senior color. And I realize that the Official Completion of Growing Up is still far out of reach.

In my previous years I certainly did try, for quite a while, to achieve some sort of desirable growth. The summer before my sophomore year, I chopped off all my hair in an impulsive attempt to radically change myself. I went on to ditch my glasses and quit orchestra and cello. On the September night before the first day of school I fell asleep with a naïve hope that the world would be different when I woke up.

Sure, I fooled myself for a while. But after some time, I ended up unhappy and unsatisfied as I unconsciously shifted back into my old patterns and found myself missing the things that I thought I would be better without. Simply put, it is exhausting to pretend, to try so hard to be a person you clearly are not.

One of the most painful, yet simultaneously exhilarating, aspects of high school is how quickly everything seems to change. How you are expected to continuously move forward, let go of the old and familiar, and embrace the new and uncertain. You drive for the first time. You start your first job. You start a new sport or join a new club. You start to figure out, or attempt to figure out, who (insert your name here) actually are and what (insert your name here) wants to do for the rest of his or her life.

Who am I? I am a younger sister, a cellist, a dreamer, a daughter, a writer, a swimmer, and a performer. That much I know—almost—for certain. What do I want to do? Well, the rest is blurry.

I needed to understand who I was before I attempted to change myself. All my previous conceptions of who I was were nothing but what people told me, who I should be, and who I imagined myself to be. And because I was not who I imagined myself to be, I felt nothing but disappointment months after that September night before the first day of sophomore year when I attempted to grow up.

And so, because we are not clay figures sculpted and dried for permanence, the Official Completion of Growing Up, as pleasant as it may sound, does not exist. Sure, it may seem like it does when we don our very best blue on rally days, with tutus, face paint, tank tops, and headbands, like the proud seniors we are. When we loudly and obnoxiously boo the freshmen when their turn is called, like the proper seniors we are. But the reality is, we may never be completed, and contrary to what we are told and what we are trained to accept, we may never truly grow up.

We will always, and continuously, change, developing into the person who is the truest version of ourselves. And rather than that being something disappointing, maybe it is something undeniably and infinitely hopeful.

I have to constantly remind myself that we are seniors now. I am a senior now. Yet, I still feel the same nervous uncertainty that I did when I walked into my first period class freshman year. I feel it when I pick colleges and make one of the biggest decisions in my life so far. And perhaps, for better or for worse, that will be one thing that will never truly, completely change.

Docean Park, SRHS Senior