Growing up in a big family — with two older siblings and a younger brother for whom to set an example — I have always felt like I had to grow up quickly to keep pace with them. I have always felt like I was speeding toward maturity faster than other kids my age. The year my sister got a locker (an enormous rite of passage in our pop culture) was the year I stopped carrying around my favorite stuffed animal. The year she first graced the halls of high school, I no longer wanted to play imagination games during recess. My sister was a big girl, and so I had to become one, too.
Although this warped timeline of childhood progression had, at times, seemed like a solemn and self-stripping process, it also gave me access to a vast amount of knowledge. I was thinking about college before my classmates were even thinking about high school. I was deciding where to live as an adult before they had even considered they’d ever move out of their childhood homes.
Before coming to Georgetown, I never once wondered what it would have been like to grow up along a normal timeline of maturity. I never considered what I was missing — I was always far too busy thinking highly of myself for acting like an adult. For others, becoming an adult was a dreaded process of forgoing the safety net of childhood; for me, it was the long-awaited plunge into a world I wished I had already been inhabiting for years.
I think it really hit me that I would finally be able to take that big step in a few short months during my spring semester of senior year — and the most amazing thing happened. When you know what you want is right around the corner and you’ve already put in all the work to achieve it, you don’t have to worry about what comes next. You get to slow down and start appreciating every day for what it is and whatever it consists of at that moment in your life, and that’s exactly what I did. I took a moment to take stock and think about what it was that I really wanted to do, what I had been missing out on, and what I could do before my time at home was a distant memory of the past.
I stopped worrying about getting all my homework done (not that I was that great at it before), and I joined my school’s track team — something I had always wanted to do if I had enough time. I dedicated myself to showing up to every rugby practice and game, when the year before, my presence had been so scarce on the pitch that our new assistant coach didn’t know who I was when I returned for my senior year. I stopped working five days a week at an almost full-time job and spent more time with my friends and at the beach: two things that I was slowly realizing I was not going to be around for much longer. When IB exams rolled around and all my classmates were losing their minds from stress, I didn’t let the pressure get the best of me because, in the end, it was only a test — either you knew the answers or you didn’t.
I changed a lot in those last few months before Georgetown. I thought of it as one last shot at doing high school right before I closed that chapter and started the next. But, now I realize that it doesn’t always have to be that way. Even though we’re all in college now and living in a hyper-professional city, we don’t have to give up that childish and fun-loving aspect of ourselves. We don’t have to pretend like we have it all figured out or join a bunch of meaningless clubs to impress future interviewers. We just have to slow down and take it all in, one day at a time, and, most importantly, never forget that at any point in our lives we can choose to turn around and be different. We can choose to let go of the pressure to succeed and just be ourselves.
Trust me: I’ve tried it, and I’m never going back.
Cyrena Touros is a freshman in the College. The Superscript appears every other Sunday at thehoya.com.