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Fear at 18

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

When I was in kindergarten, my dog Sophie chewed up my favorite stuffed animal that I slept with every night, leaving the tiger a matted-down cyclops, fluffy snow salivating out of his punctured heart. Tears flew, insults were screamed, ignorant affection and symbolic apologies were shown, but after the incident I never held the same amplitude of love in my heart for Sophie again. 

No second chances needed to be given; I forgave her, I loved her, I laughed and played and sobbed when I had to say goodbye to her, but there was always a mild anger bubbling below the eyes that would never be able to look at my cyclops the same again. I stopped sleeping next to him altogether because it hurt too much to stare at his chewed-up eye covered in aerated Gorilla Glue as a result of my mom trying to mend my broken spirit. I felt guilty for giving up on something for its ugly scars. I had always thought my stuffed animals had real human emotions, so the guilt ate away at me for quite some time.

Children are not afraid to let go of something that hurts them. I wonder what I would have done with the tiger now if the dog was still here and her teeth fought for his vision once more.

18 is the perfect age for everything to sound better on paper. You’re not quite out of your daydreams yet. I can vote, get a tattoo, buy lottery tickets, fireworks, a house, get sued, and serve on a jury. I have only done one of these so far and I’m not telling you which. I don’t have any tattoos. 

18 sounds good on paper, but it is an age of great change and transition into adulthood. What classifies one as an adult, I have not quite figured out yet. As a child I thought it was how tall you were or how much facial hair you had. As an older child I think it is living without your parents and being financially independent. 

At 18, I am afraid to let go of places and people and things that have hurt me. I have let go of suburbs, proximity to those I love, seven years of theater, two years of golf, my grandma, a deep sadness rooted in nothing in particular. A lot has stayed the same, though. I am still excited to live and will listen to the same song ten times in a row, I sing and write and say hello to people I don’t know that well, I drink Starbucks coffee multiple times a week and dance with myself in the mirror. Sometimes people don’t take me seriously because I tell too many jokes and sing wherever I walk. I try to keep my faith in mind. I look up to my Dad and his humor too much. The moments I have enjoyed most in my life were spontaneous and completely unplanned. I have kept my passion for life and enjoy the company of my friends.

There have only been a few times in college where I have been in a sad, homesick state in which I thought about everything that has gone wrong and everything that makes me sad about my future, present, and past, in that order. I would have one of those moments where you just have to let the sadness wash over you to breathe and be happy and grateful again. Of course, a feeling is never big enough to carry forever. I am grateful for the changes in my life as they are shaping the adult me and helping me realize my ambitions.

College has led me to a lot of self-reflection about previous goals and future aspirations. At 18, my fear of letting go has prevailed through transition, but it has made me stronger. If Sophie was still here and my tiger was still punctured with little regret, I believe I would let go of him in a similar manner. There would be a bit more fear alongside a lot less oblivion.

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