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I want to be a teenager forever

Claire Kraemer

I was told yesterday that I was almost halfway to 40. I’m terrified of growing up.

I always wanted to be older. More like my brothers. More like the girls I wished my brothers would date. Grow into myself. Get taller. Get shinier hair. Be more confident. Now, all I want to do is rewind the clock. Cliche, I know. 


If we are being honest, my problems right now are not all that big. My brother, now working his youth away for an investment bank, questioned how I could ever be stressed in college.


“Oh, so your biggest issue is that you have an essay due? Or an exam?”


He has a point.

Other than the events of the 2020 election, my greatest concerns revolve around what I’m making for dinner, whether the boy I like will text me back, and how I can cram enough work in on a Thursday so I can go out and make it to my 8:30 the next morning. 


I’m worried about having to be a grown up. I just figured out that you don’t put tide pods in the detergent slot. No, seriously. I didn’t clean my clothes with detergent for the majority of freshman year. I’m supposed to be able to cook chicken without the fire alarm going off. I’m supposed to have a calendar that I actually pay attention to. The fact that some of my friends know where they will be in Summer of 2021 with an internship is astounding. 


Birthdays were always coveted in my house. My mom had a birthday sash that I would wear. Cakes were ordered from a particular bakery. On my 13th birthday I got my ears pierced with a tiara on. In high school, my friends had a tradition of waking you up absurdly early and kidnapping you for breakfast. My hula hooping themed birthday was unmatched.

I always saw birthdays as a time when people I loved could come together. And to be honest, I found it to be a time when all the attention was on me. You know those people who aren’t birthday people? That’s never been me. But, when my 20th birthday came along I felt strange trying to plan something for myself without my mom leading the charge. It felt kiddish and I was supposed to be leaving those kiddish habits behind me. 


If I look to the future, all I see is complete darkness. When I was little, I envisioned myself so clearly: living as an interior designer with my family in California, or someplace warm. Now, I can’t think past the next 7 days of my life. Maybe this is a symptom of living through a pandemic. Or maybe I’ll just be young without responsibilities forever. 

I’m a little scared of how happy I feel right now. I’m scared that it’s all going to come crashing down on me when I least expect it. It’s like the song “Happy & Sad” by Kacey Musgraves. Miss Musgraves says, “I'm the kind of person who starts getting kinda nervous when I'm having the time of my life.” Well said, Kacey. Even in the darkness of a pandemic and the looming election, I’ve found fun. There is still a place for joy, but only if you take the time to look for it. It comes in running with your roommates to insomnia cookies on a Monday night or pulling an all-nighter to finish a policy memo. These are the moments I’m thankful for. These are the moments that give me nostalgia for the “good ‘ol days” as they occur. I’m just scared that the clock will strike midnight and my strange COVID-adjusted fairytale will come to an end. All when I turn 20.

I called my mom about my predicament of my teenage years coming to a close. She said that I needed to surround myself with people that made me feel like a kid. People that know how to have fun in every situation. Realistically, I couldn’t find a time machine to transport myself back in time, nor  do I wish to go back to a time when I wore jeans and running sneakers (not that my substitution for crocs is any better). 

What I do have is an incredible support system that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. People that understand the important things: laughter, good food, and good company. Maybe that’s the recipe to eternal youth.

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