Last Friday, I participated in Relay for Life, an event I partake in every year with a large group of friends. We sit and talk as the night wears on – hour after hour. Every year, conversations delve deeper, relationships are strengthened, and a feeling of “belonging” is cultivated. This year, I was sitting in a circle of people talking about typical adolescent problems: prom, ASB, things that feel so urgent in the moment, when someone turned to me and said, “Do you ever think about how these people, who you’ve grown up with and have shaped the person you are today, all have another year of high school to experience but you’re just… leaving?”
I sat there, with his words ringing in my ears, looking at the beautiful and loving faces around me. These faces that I have known, loved, and fought with everyday for years. They will live another year of adolescence, caught up in the drama of school and life. I’m not saying that I won’t be living this, I certainly will, but it will be different. I will have to learn new dynamics of friends and foes all mixed together with no years of togetherness to differentiate them. I will have to explain my life to these strangers; the baggage I carry is heavy and it can be hard to ask new people to take on that load.
What if I can’t leave? I fear I will leave and miss the comfort of intimatly knowing the people I spend my time with. I fear wanting so badly to experience youth with them that it completely consumes me. But, at the same time, my priorities aren’t their’s anymore. While my friends are obsessed with next year’s school schedules and college visits, I’m planning out my packing list and worrying about how I will get along with my new family. With every plan I cancel to work on online classes, with every night I spend cramming German while they’re out at a party, I inch farther away from belonging in that circle.
What if I never want to come home? This is also a fear of mine, as present as the homesickness. What if I change so drastically, that the thought of coming back to Moscow is too painful to endure? What if I change so drastically that I will no longer fit in that circle on the ground at Relay For Life.
Change is the only constant. Whether or not I stay or go, I will change. We all will. It’s healthy. Maybe in a year I will come home and I won’t “belong”. Maybe that will be okay. It’s foolish to go back and forth between these two fears without acknowledging the untrimmed path of growth we must follow regardless of our small decisions on the way.
So, I write about these conflicting fears here, in a weird public diary form, to ask for advice or experience or whatever people want to tell me. I am tired of my eternal internal searching and I want to turn towards other people’s stories from which I can glean wisdom. Please, oh dear reader, tell me your stories about fears of growing, leaving, or returning home!
(To answer the original question posed to me: yes, as you can see from this post, I think about it all the time.)