Life: the ultimate game of charades


Used with Permission by Mara Tiede

Because of people in my life like Mara, I can take on challenges that come along with growing up.

Laura Heckenlaible, Perspectives Editor

I once wanted nothing more than to be grown up, to go to college and to live alone, but now, the mere thought of getting older and having to be on my own is the most daunting of all.

I have always been a prepared person. Maybe it is because of my packed schedule or it could just be my anxiety, either way, I have always strived to stay organized while I load myself high with exercise, work and social activities. I strive for the chase, both literally and figuratively. While I have and continue participating in my fair share of cross country and track races, I also am always hustling from place to place. Most days I leave my house at seven in the morning for school or work. After I get off I make it to the trails for a run or I go to the gym for a workout. Finally, I get back home around eight or nine at night just to go to bed and repeat it all the next day. Most of the time I truly enjoy my active schedule but to get to this point I continue to have to go through an alliteration in the way I mature.

Because of the way I have structured my life, I had to grow up quickly. My independent nature pushed me to get my first job at 14 and then my second at 16. Since I started babysitting when I was 12, I have maintained a steady flow of clients. In the past two years running and exercise have also become a year-round constant. With all of these factors combined, I am constantly mistaken for being older than I truly am. Frequent conversations awkwardly switch when I am exposed to the unknowing question that I am in fact not 25, nor do I have any kids of my own and I am only a junior in high school. “I could be your mom,” and, “I thought you were in college,” are common responses. Do not get me wrong, I love my life but currently, because of how I live, I am having a bit of a mid-life crisis. 

On the outside, everyone thinks I have it together, and in some aspects, I may, however, despite how mature I may seem on the outside I still am just like every other 16-year-old. I struggle with thoughts of college tours, ACT’s, life after high school and so much more. Though others see me as ready, I feel the most unprepared now more than ever. There are nights I lie in bed trying to slow the wheels in my brain that turn due to the jumbled mess of thoughts. 

These thoughts were all pushed to the front of my mind when one of my classes went to SDSU for a convention. At the convention, we walked around, we went into classrooms and we ate in the cafe. While I was on campus I was able to meet back up with one of my best friends who graduated in 2022. I met Mara when she was a senior and I was a little sophomore. We instantly clicked and became a rowdy duo in class. During those times our difference in grade and age seemed to blur. While Mara was worried about scholarships and tuition deadlines my biggest struggle was passing a geometry test. When we met up again the once gap became smaller, I may be two years younger but now as a junior, I am much closer to facing the same stage of life that Mara is in currently. When Mara went to college, our friendship shifted, I was no longer a young sophomore and she was no longer a high school senior. We have found another commonality. Now, we are both at a dramatically crucial growing period in our lives.

Between having to think about reciprocity, scholarships and big tests I have started to fill that older role people have always mistaken me for. For a long time, I felt I could not fit that role because I was facing anxieties and overwhelming thoughts. I believed growing up you had to know what you were doing. Through my revelation after meeting with Mara along with my experiences as I battled through 11th grade, I have learned that growing up is all a big game of charades. Like when you draw a card and you are told to act out something completely unknown, despite having no clue what to do you go for it.  In younger years, no one is ever ready to take an ACT or to move into a dorm. In older years, no one is ever ready for their kids to start walking or to buy their first home. Is anyone ever truly ready? Life is all about taking risks and acting the part. It is faking it till you make it. 

I have learned that despite how prepared I try to be sometimes, especially in situations like growing up, I have learned that a to-do list is not always the answer. I have to let myself take it day by day so I can truly grow up and figure out this new world I will soon be immersed in. I will continue attacking my busy schedule and running around town but I will also be adding some major decisions into the mix. I will continue to search and struggle to find answers to the anxieties and questions that arise. I want to thank my friend, Mara, for allowing me to be part of her life. I have come to realize that growing up does not have to be so scary after all.