Adult status disguises inner child

I am old.There comes a time in every person’s life when they decide they have trancended the stage of being young, and this weekend was my rite of passage. I don’t know when or how I became old, but it happened.
Thinking about life and all the trials and tribulations we humans go through in this merry-go-round cycle is quite a shock to the system. As I ponder my time on this planet and at the University, I come to the conclusion that I have passed over the time of being young and sprightly.
I am 23 years old, and although part of me wants to think I am still in the prime of my life, the majority of my feelings consists of overwhelming thoughts of being an adult. No longer am I able to rile myself up for a night out on the town in the middle of the week; no longer am I able to act like the kid I still feel inside.
Possibly this is because of the breakneck pace at which I chose to complete my education. I rushed through my bachelor’s program and leaped right into my master’s program at the tender age of 21. Many people who are my current age or older are still in their undergraduate programs. Why did I choose the fast track instead of taking my time and savoring the college experience? This is a question I have asked myself many times in the past year and a half since I graduated.
As a master’s student in education, I am living two separate lives — that of the 12-year-old I feel like inside my aging body and that of the professional adult I have resisted becoming.
But now, I feel as if the adult part of me is winning the battle. I have passed from my carefree childhood years into the life of a mature adult — if you can really call it that. The weirdest part of this whole process is that I have no idea when exactly “the change” actually occurred. I just woke up one morning to find that I was expected to be a responsible adult instead of the jubilant child I thought I could remain forever.
Part of this metamorphosis has transpired in the past months as I have progressed in my master’s program. I student teach at Wayzata High School, located in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. Instructing 15- and 16-year-olds on a daily basis has put me in the position of role model and responsible, professional adult. I am no longer Kyle Ann; now I am Ms. Christian.
I look into the eyes of my students, full of hopes, goals, aspirations and dreams for the future. Though I am not so far-removed from the halls of my own high-school experience, my eyes no longer gleam in the same way theirs do. My students are searching for something — something they don’t even know. They look to me — the adult, the teacher, the elder — to glean as much insight and information as they can, not only in the subject I am teaching them, but also about life. My eyes are still searching as well, but are full of the experiences I have gone through, bright in a different way than theirs. They are no longer the hopeful, expecting eyes of the naive child, but are instead the eyes weathered by experience, waiting in expectation for the future to come.
Though all the other teachers at the high school are older and, as I perceive, wiser, now I am lumped into the same category of “teacher.”
How in the world did I get to be an elder member of society, watching the younger generations grow up before my eyes? Maybe it’s just that I am student teaching, placed in a setting where I interact with these young adults every day and know I am supposed to be educating and molding them into the future leaders of our country.
I still feel like a child myself — I can’t possibly be old enough to be responsible for this integral task. I am still a student, too! After I graduate with my master’s degree in December, I will be a full-fledged adult member of society. This freaks me out. Currently, I am torn between the two worlds of student and professional. I don’t see a difference in my demeanor and personality between these two worlds, but the feeling of being the new kid on the block in one situation and being “old” in the other is quite noticeable. When did I pass from one stage of life to the next? Did I even transfer from one stage to the other? Does anyone truly know when this change of becoming a responsible adult occurs? I can’t tell.
My friends who are 21 and under also say they feel old, but do they have the same apprehensive, petrified feelings that I have about being categorized as an adult, professional member of society? Though only a couple of years older, it feels as if I have stepped to the edge of the cliff of childhood and can’t quite decide whether I am capable of taking the final plunge into the depths of adult society.
Do people get pushed off the cliff, or can they really choose to jump? After going over the edge, can one climb back up to the top periodically, or is the change really just a bungee jump catapulting us in a cycle of up and down and up and down, over and over until the ride comes to an end?
This change cannot be categorized as a negative or positive life experience; it’s just a life experience. Whether everyone goes through this change, I do not know, but it is my guess that we all do. Change is a part of life, and whether we realize that we have “grown up” at 23 or at 73 is a personal experience different for every one of us. I just think about it now. What will the next change be? Again, I have no clue, but I am looking forward to it. Maybe it will be on that upswing of my bungee jump ride.
Kyle Ann Christian is a senior copy editor at the Daily. She welcomes comments at [email protected]