The simple days of youth are over.
So much time has passed, yet I’m still holding on to the memories that were only possible when I was younger. I know I sound silly, reflecting back on the days of my youth even though I’m still only 21, but we all can’t help but long for carefree days in our past. I know that as time goes on, I will make countless more memories that will only be possible in my 20s, or my 30s, 40s, etc. I still have many more moments to look forward to, but these days, I miss how simple it used to be.
Back then, we could imagine everything we wanted to do or wanted to be without facing the hardships of adulthood yet. We knew it might be hard at times, but we didn’t realize how crushing it would be to let reality take over our dreams. Sometimes, I envy those in their youth that are still unaware to how much more life is coming their way, and I smile at the thought that I was like that once.
I’ve watched a friend group that grew together in high school slowly fall apart. I acknowledged long ago that we all wouldn’t stay the best of friends, but it was sad to see how many of us lost our way after high school. We used to have so much hope for the future, but eventually, relationships ended, friendships became strained, and we stopped believing we were capable of more. Goodbye to making silly summer short films and huge Christmas party Secret Santas. Goodbye to innocent childhood crushes and long walks home together after school.
As I look back at what I have lost, I also look at what I have gained.
I may have lost some friends, but I have also gained and nurtured stronger friendships in the process. My wide-eyed and unrealistic dreams for the future may have faded, but I can still strive for fulfillment and happiness with a hopeful mind. I may not have published my first book and became famous before I was 20 like I had always dreamed, but I can now allow myself to take the time I need to figure out what I want next for myself. It will always be an ongoing process, but I know that when I do discover what I want, I will be equipped with the determination and capability to achieve my goals realistically, unlike when I was younger.
Now that I am in my early 20s and struggling with the end of my first relationship, uncertainties about the career I want to pursue, and a longing for more certainty, it’s easy to miss the simplicity of being young and naïve. Growing up will inevitably be painful at times. The more you live and learn about the world, the more the weight of it all can crush you, but we gain more than we lose even if it feels like the opposite is true.
The heartbreak, the insecurities, and the longing are inescapable at any age, but in the end, I will gain strength from it all. I will use all the pain I have accumulated over the years to face new obstacles with a more empathetic and reflective mind. I will look back and know that I can survive the heartache and uncertainty because I have already survived through it before.
Friendships may have drifted apart. Relationships may have ended. The dreams you once had may have slipped away. But you will make new friends, or you will strengthen the ones that you have. You will find new loves, and with experience, you will discover what you want from a partner. You will forge new dreams and goals that you can grasp in your hand.
It’s easy to miss the days back when we were blissfully unaware, but remind yourself that it’s the hardest times in life that bring you the most growth. We cannot run away from growing up and all the pain that we will face along the way. Life may not feel as simple anymore, but honestly, life probably wasn’t ever completely simple anyways. We just didn’t know any better, but now we do.
If you miss how easy it was back then, just remember that one day in the future you will look back on this present moment and think about how much you miss this period of your life.