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Thursday, June 13
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: I didn’t know how hard growing up was, until I did

opgrowingup-illo

I didn’t know how hard growing up was.  

As a kid, I remember imagining what my life as a grown-up would be like. Even though my parents were my sun and moon back then, I still dreamt of the skies I would touch and the comets I would see.  

The world, as my parents taught me to see it, was the stage for my plays. I could write whatever script I wanted, and design whatever costumes I desired. Thanks to them, I still dream big and try to keep my doubts small. 

Growing up was all I wanted to do and a grownup was all I wanted to be when I was little. I wanted my mind to be stimulated, and my heart to be passionate, which middle school and high school didn’t achieve for me. Classes were not challenging enough and being told what to do and how to do it was never to my liking.  That made me want to grow up much more.  

I was a very fortunate child, and I’m an even more fortunate 21-year-old. It is with this fortune that comes a sadness demanding to be felt as I have grown up, and so it is.  

When I left for college, I never knew how many knots in my throat I would have to untie in the name of growing up.  

The first time I hugged my parents goodbye, as August ended before freshman year, the knot in my throat was easy to untie.  

I hadn’t realized the world was my stage only if I left my parents at home, and they weren’t always in the audience. I didn’t know they would only see the skies I touch from down below. In time though, I became aware of the intricacies of growing up and as years have gone by, the knot in my throat has become tighter and tighter. 

I had a fortune cookie a couple of days ago, and it read “Perhaps those who dream most, do most.” As beautiful as that reality is, its sharp edges don’t forgive. It is the same dreams that fill my heart that have sharp edges that stab when I leave home. I never knew dreaming big, was only possible if we left. 

The first news story I wrote for this newspaper junior year also happened to be the first story I had ever written in my life. To my surprise, it made it to the physical newspaper. Although the smile on my face could not be taken away, my eyes yearned for the sight of my parents’ faces. A picture had to do for the accomplishment, and a call for the “congratulations."  

Throughout the last couple years of college, I have been slowly catching up to my goals, and my parents are not in the audience. They are thousands of miles away, and as bittersweet as that drink is, it's one I had to take straight. 

It is with a suffocating difficulty to swallow that I now leave after every break. Not for me, but for them, and although they find peace in thinking I do it out of hunger for more, I leave with a heavy heart every time, the peace just doesn’t extend to me.  

But they deserve nothing less than to see me do everything I told them I would when I was young.  

And so, I leave. Even though it gets harder every time I go back for a couple of weeks over break, even though I am so scared of being unable to deal with my emotions these next four months and even though I would love to just stay. I leave because I deserve to do everything I vowed as a kid.  

I left for college, to come back with stories to tell and accomplishments to celebrate; to bring back the newspapers my stories made it into; to send pictures of excitement and make congratulatory calls. I leave to return to where my eyes no longer yearn.  

I left for me, but mostly for them because when my determination isn’t enough, I know my love for them will be.  

I left and will continue to leave for every comet I chase, every star I reach and every sky I graze. All in their name.   

I left this time knowing how hard growing up is, and how beautiful it becomes when I come back with the type of stars in my hands that they never would’ve seen if I hadn’t left in the first place.  


Maria Amanda Irias (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and psychology. 

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