Let’s flash back to elementary school, where the sky truly was the limit. If you had asked me what I’d wanted to be when I grew up, I probably wouldn’t have been afraid to say, ballerina. Police officer. Model. Author.
And now, living life as a 16-year-old sophomore in high school, I can safely say that I have no idea what I was thinking back then, because those dreams. . . are totally, totally, unattainable. I’m too short to be a ballerina. I’m not strong enough to be a police officer. A model is not a respectable occupation, nor can it be one for a lifetime. I should just stop writing because no publishing house is ever going to want to read any novel written by a 16-year-old anyway.
When you grow up, you become more reasonable, and with that comes the loss of big dreams. That reason makes you more cynical. Your view on the world narrows, and you stop dreaming because, hey, it’s probably not going to work out anyway. That’s what it was like for me. When I was little, and even back in middle school, I was a writer. I wrote things. I got lost in the world that was laying awake at night, working out plot lines and figuring out dialogue, laughing out loud at it before I even got out of bed to grab my flashlight and a pen to write it down. And even before then, I would come up with the strangest ideas in elementary school, type them up, and transfer them to a USB — fearlessly. There came a point when all that stopped. I “grew up.” I stopped chasing things that I knew I could never get and decided to use my time more wisely instead, trying to figure out series and sequences and the difference between single-displacement and acid-base reactions.
I stopped writing. I have stopped writing. The time when I began to lose interest started, strangely enough, at the point at which I turned 16, when I started to get caught up in the new school year and wanting to focus on “what really mattered.” How far would I get in writing that poem or that short story anyway? Not as far as I’d like.
For those of you reading this, I want to tell you something. Don’t let the world take its toll on you. Don’t let it beat you down and take away the innocence that is starry-eyed wonder. Don’t let it take away the part of you that is not afraid to say something or make a decision without thinking about the costs or boundaries or the practicality of it.
I loved writing. Loved it. I loved the feeling of spontaneity, being able to write a part of a chapter on your phone as you stood in the lunch line because something someone had said or did had inspired you. I loved the instant inspiration, how a writer sees everything as a story waiting to be told. I loved being the one to tell that story, being the one to show the world. I loved how it was my outlet for everything, for anger, craziness, dreams, and so much more. I’m determined to start loving it again. But why did I stop? Because I know that the time and effort I take to do all of that probably won’t yield anything worthwhile anyway. Because I’ve become so cynical and reasonable, I’ve lost a part of myself. I’ve lost something that I loved.
People will tell you to grow up. They will tell you to start acting your age. But I’m telling you to never lose the kid inside, the one who’ll tell people that, When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a poet. I want to be a firefighter. I’m going to keep writing this story because I’m going to query it when I’m done. I’m going to dive headfirst into this idea just because it’s fun. I’m not going to think about where it’s going, even whether or not it will. I’m going to do it just to do it, for the time being and because I love it.
Don’t grow up, not on the inside. Because to do that would be to close a window on life, and one of the best ones, too.
Emily Fong is officially known as that indecisive sixteen-year-old writer-marathoner-coder-daydreamer living in the big world. People always ask her why she writes, and the answer never changes — because if she didn’t, she’d probably be going around unloading her personal problems on people like that guy standing behind her in line at Starbucks. Yep, your caramel iced coffee now comes with a side of emotional teenager. But however strange she may come across, don’t be scared. She’s hardly as bad as she seems on paper. Be sure to check out her art blog on Tumblr.
Amanda Mabel is a fashion and portrait photographer living in Sydney, Australia. Originally from Singapore, she moved to Perth in 2011, then Sydney in 2012. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts (Advanced) (Honours) at the University of Sydney. In her free time, she loves taking photographs, travelling to beautiful places, and drinking tea. She also happens to blog for Vogue Australia Spy Style. She maintains a website at www.amandamabel.com and can be found on: Instagram Facebook LinkedIn Pinterest Tumblr Bloglovin Flickr.