Slow Down The Grow Up

Leily Zhu, News Editor

Peter Pan might have been onto something when he decided to stay in Neverland and be the “Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.” He has no worries about being an adult, making grown-up decisions, and on top of all that, he can fly.
The world that we live in is nearly the polar opposite of Neverland, a world in which we are forced to grow up too fast. Juniors and seniors in high school are pushed to make decisions that affect the rest of their lives at a time when they are hardly considered adults. Children and young adults are stuck on the ground, constantly stressing and planning for the future in the hopes of one day reaching the great heights that Peter Pan has always flown.
Once students enter their high school education, thoughts of the future become more prevalent and linger in their subconscious at nearly all times. While these thoughts may be emerging for the first time for high school students, their parents have undoubtedly been imagining and building up hopes for their futures since before their births.
Though junior and senior year are considered the most college-centric years of our education prior to high school graduation and entering the actual university, some students begin college preparatory processes like taking standardized tests and college visits as early as sixth grade, often from intense parental pressure. There is nothing wrong with being prepared, but over preparation can cause children to lose the meaning of childhood.
As the time for college continues to grow closer, the pressure moves from hovering in the back of one’s mind to looming over one’s shoulder. What once was an activity for enjoyment becomes a possible addition to assist college preparation. Each class taken, club joined, and decision made is subconsciously chosen with the goals of college and the future in mind.
According to USA Today, the average life expectancy of the U.S. has risen to a record high of 78.8 years. The average age range of high school upperclassmen is 16 to 18 years. This means that neither juniors nor seniors have lived even a fourth of their life, yet many major decisions about the future are decided within that specific time frame.
At the same time that students are required to ask for permission to use the restroom, they are also expected to choose somewhat of a pathway, if not a career, that the rest of their lives will ride on. Of course, there is still much time to make decisions and change paths according to changes in interests over time, but the major decision-making process happens in the third and fourth years of high school.
The future is vastly important and must be given much thought in advance, but missing out on your childhood should not be a consequence of it. You should be able to do activities just for the fun of it, rather than for a contribution to your resume, enjoy summers free of studying, and be free to act like a kid because you are one. In a world that forces us to grow up too fast, it is important to find a happy medium between Peter Pan’s Neverland world of “never growing up” and a world in which the only thing we do is grow up.