Edited by: Avni Gupta
Growing up is a funny feeling. It doesn’t happen at any fixed point in time where we turn a certain age. However, looking back on my life so far, I now feel like I have grown up. Whether or not I really have is a separate question altogether, but for the time being I feel a wave of nostalgia wash over me. As I sit here in my dorm room, the fluorescent lights above casting a harsh, sterile glow, I can’t help but look back on the days when I was younger – way younger than what I am now. Fact of the matter is, it’s strangely funny how, just a few months ago, I was eagerly packing my bags and leaving behind the home I had known for the past eighteen years. Now, I find myself reminiscing about the days when life was simpler and the future seemed so distant.
The first week of college was a symphony of mixed emotions, each note harmonizing with the other in a composition of uncertainty and anticipation. It was a crescendo of excitement, the kind that sets your heart racing and your mind spinning, like a spinning top teetering on the edge of chaos and wonder. But two weeks in, I began realising how I had everyone around me, yet no one beside me. I knew the faces, I had small-talked with them, I knew what they were going to major in and where they were from. But that’s it, that’s all I knew. I made three good friends, I could call to go for lunch with me, but they didn’t make me feel the same warmth my friends back home did(Of course I could never expect that, I knew these people for only 2 weeks). I had fun, but I was lonely, a strange loneliness that is hard to explain. I had so many people around me, we partied, we had chats till late in the night, but somewhere deep down and in sudden spurts I realised I was participating in a dance of emotions, a waltz between exhilaration and uncertainty, like a tightrope walker, balancing on the thin thread of this new chapter in life. It was the thrill of new friendships intermingled with the ache of homesickness, and strange thoughts.
A month in, I write about this because I realise this emotional kaleidoscope was perhaps not unique to me. It was a rite of passage, a symphony that every college student played their part in. People call it their “Bittersweet farewell to the past”, but I’m not sure if I fully agree. I wouldn’t want to bid my childhood a “Goodbye”, it’s always a “See you” for me. I am aware I can’t physically live those days again, but I can in my memories at least.
I love thinking about how I grew up. It’s sad and happy at the same time, and the corner of my lips alternates between being happy and emotional whenever I think about it. From my first time riding a bicycle, to teaching my neighbourhood friends how to ride the cycle, to actually all of us racing together, – I think about it all. We played too many games, and everyday as soon as the clock struck 4pm, we all rushed downstairs to play all kinds of sports. We had accidents, cracked window panes, collectively got scolded and laughed about it later. The world was a treasure trove of imagination, where cardboard boxes became castles and bed sheets transformed into secret forts. Endless summers meant building sandcastles by the beach, my dreams as vast as the ocean before me. It was a time when the phrase “I can’t” had no place in my vocabulary, and the only limits were those set by my imagination. A time so distant yet so vivid in my mind, feels like a sepia-toned photograph that I often revisit. It’s a nostalgic journey down the winding lanes of memory, where innocence and wonder painted the canvas of my world.
Growing up is an adventure filled with firsts and innocence. I remember the excitement of my first day of kindergarten, the way my tiny hand clutched my mom’s as we walked into that colourful classroom. Back then, every challenge felt like a mountain to climb, and every triumph was a cause for celebration. As I got older, the years seemed to pass in a blur. Middle school brought its own set of firsts – my first crush, my first heartbreak, and the first real taste of responsibility. High school was a roller coaster of emotions and I remember the awkwardness of those early teenage years, the days when I couldn’t decide whether I was a child or an adult. But those days were filled with laughter, secrets shared with friends, and a growing sense of independence.
And now, here I am, a first-year college student. The days of backpacks and textbooks have been replaced by laptops and digital notes. The friends I grew up with are scattered across different universities, and the comfort of home is just a memory. It’s both exhilarating and intimidating, this new chapter of life.
As I walk through the campus, I can’t help but marvel at the changing seasons. The same trees that once shaded my childhood now sway in the autumn breeze, their leaves falling to the ground, just as my childhood has fallen behind me. I may be a first-year college student, but I carry with me the memories of a lifetime. The lessons, the laughter, and the love that have shaped me into who I am today. I love university, but there are moments of strange feelings that come from sudden realisations. Somewhere in between broken pencils and dried up pens, we grew up. From pen fighting and punching holes into erasers, to begging the professor to extend the deadline by a day so that we can shorten our 1500 word essay to 700 words, we grew up. I used to hug my parents and cry to them when I got a scratch on my finger, but now I hug them out of appreciation and at the airport uttering “See you soon” when leaving for university. And I know we have a lot more to grow, but only if we could “Turn back time, to the good old days, when our mama sang us to sleep, but now we are stressed out.”
To myself in the past, myself now, and myself in the future, it’s always a “See you” and never a “Goodbye”. You do have a lot more to grow up.