We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofAngela Hernandez

Childhood. What an experience… what a time. A time when I did not have a care in the world. A time where the scariest thing in my life was the monsters under my bed. Or even the happiest thing was being able to watch another episode of my favorite TV show. Those small things I took for granted.

The thought of being a senior next year amazes me because it is difficult to grasp how fast time has passed. It feels like yesterday; I was just in elementary school playing with my friends at recess. Now that I'm a junior in high school, it has finally hit me that my childhood went by insanely fast. Almost as if someone snapped their fingers and brought me to this moment in time. I genuinely believe that I completely took my childhood for granted.

My former carefree life has now given way to wave after wave of future responsibilities. As a child, I always heard people say, "take advantage of being a kid!" or "don't grow up too fast." However, at the time, I didn't truly understand why adults continuously told me this. My answer was always just a simple "oh ok, I will" and not a "let me live in the moment." Every day I think about how different it could have been if I had appreciated every moment I had, knowing that those were fleeting moments. Looking back at all the memories I once made has brought me to the realization that I can never get back those moments because I have already passed my childhood. No matter how much I would love to relive them or even go back in time, I can't. 

Even when feeling as though I am drowning in the thoughts of responsibilities and the thoughts of exiting childhood, I remember that time passes, and life goes on whether I would like it to or not. Deadlines and career decisions keep me in a hole that is hard to get out of right now. Time continues to move forward, just as I need to as well. Getting caught up in old memories distracts us from seeing how amazing it is to be alive right now, at this moment. I know that to keep my childhood memories alive, I must still look back on how amazing they were. To be glad that I had those amazing moments that I can now cherish forever. 

I grew up so fast. There is no doubt about that. The overwhelming idea of having to be ready for what the future holds is very stressful. All of the memories that I made as a kid may slowly start to fade away. All the thoughts of having so much time left to be a "kid" are slowly turning into realistic stressful ones. These thoughts determine my career and how I will live my life from here on out. The necessity that we all must eventually "grow up" has made me realize that from here, I can only take steps forward, not back.

© Angela Hernandez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.