Growing pains

Sophomore reflects on both past and future as adolescence fades


Nothing looms over us quite like the future does. Though we know it’s inevitable and is coming, in the moment our subsequent self and aspirations can seem so intangible. It’s a fever dream transitioning from elementary to middle school. Suddenly one blinks and high school is flying by. As childhood fades away and teenagers enter adulthood, how do our preconceived expectations impact us? Looking back at the years behind us, what’s truly the moral of the story?

Anticipation & Expectations

It’s like the saying that the days go by slowly, but the years pass by in a moment. We look back and reminisce about the memories made, the many years spent laboriously doing work, nights spent at school dances, running up flights of stairs during the school day and laughing with friends at lunch. All of that comes to an end as the curtains close on one’s high school journey, a tale full of complicated and contradictory feelings that makes us nearly unrecognizable by the end. While college is a very exciting endeavor, it’s equally intimidating, especially since we’ve spent our entire lives trying to prepare for it. Studying hard to get high grades, taking Advanced Placement and Dual Credit classes or participating in extracurricular activities and clubs because it’s something that colleges look for. But once we reach a certain point, it’s easy to look in the mirror and wonder if we’ve done everything possible to prepare for the future. As elementary schoolers or middle schoolers, it’s so easy to think about our future selves and develop expectations of where we’ll be or what we’ll have accomplished. However as we get older and don’t meet these standards, it’s so easy to feel like we’ve failed ourselves. But as PsychAlive and author Carolyn Joyce states, “All human beings are flawed. Anyone who has ever succeeded at anything has failed along the way. And yet, most of us spend too much of our lives weighing our weaknesses, reliving our defeats, and feeling like a failure [because] [n]o matter where we stand in relation to our goals, our inner critic will always be there to put us in our place and undermine our efforts.”

No matter if we meet our expectations or not, just continuously trying our hardest is enough.

Intermission & Moving Forward

Having these expectations and not meeting them can make it feel as if we’ve completed the first acts of our adolescent life, and instead of seeing the grand finale, we’re stuck in intermission waiting for maturity and assurance. Being stuck in this endless cycle of disappointment comes with the realization that reality is so much harsher than our dreams were. However, as website verywellmind and author Elizabeth Scott states, “When you find that what is happening is not what you expected, actively look for the positives in what you have. You may find that once you get over the disappointment, you have something you didn’t initially realize you wanted. This helps you to be more appreciative of what you have.” While we may not necessarily be in the position we thought we’d be in at this time, there’s truly no definite wrong or right position to be in. Everyone moves at their own pace and instead of feeling like we failed ourselves, we should realize all the good things we’ve been able to do and accomplish. No matter if we meet our expectations or not, just continuously trying our hardest is enough. Even though it’s so easy to compare ourselves to the people around us, especially in a competitive environment like high school, all we can do is try our best. That’s all we can do.