Growing up: Memories, Catcher in the Rye and 18

You have reached an immense precipice in your life. Senior year has just about or altogether come to a close. College orientations are rolling in. Move-in day is marked in big red letters on the calendar–a day that previously seemed so distant is now a mere 50 days away. Your parents nervously ramble about enrollment fees and meal plans and campus safety; it almost seems like they worry about every college topic to deflect the one that will inevitably worry them the most–your absence in only a mere 50 days.

The precipice you find yourself standing atop is a tall one–no doubt–and at times a dark one. You reach an odd stage; the brink of adulthood. Finances become all too real,  relationships scary, and, most noticeably, childhood becomes increasingly elusive. You feel as if you’re bidding farewell to the days playing in the grasses, escaping responsibly. But, your childhood does not require a funeral neither a maudlin epitaph. Paradoxically, age 18 is when your childhood becomes more pervasive than ever before; your memories become the touchstones of everyday life. It is in these precious gems of past, simple happenings that you will find the armor you need to conquer daily struggles.

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In J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield initially feels as if growing up is like falling off a cliff and dying. His brother, Allie, died at 10 years old, and, as a result, he feels as if the passage between childhood and adulthood is extremely perilous. Holden has a botched view; he’s wrong. Growing up is not falling off a cliff and perishing. Of course you will fall, you will stumble, but as Holden learns when his sister falls off a park carousel–you have the power to get up and soldier on.

This precipice before you is steep. It’s daunting. But it is not a death sentence. The transition from childhood to adulthood is indubitably a bumpy one. Right at this very moment you may feel overwhelmed by responsibility, by the realities of “real life.” And that is okay. Everyone has a right to fall. We also have the power to get back up.

As Holden’s sister, Phoebe, maneuvered herself back atop the horse, the carousel went around and the young girl, for a second, went out of Holden’s sight. But soon she came back into view, reassuringly. No one ever really leaves us. Similarly, your most treasured memories neither will. When you stare down the dark cliff that is stretched before you, feeling as if your days humming to Barney, waiting up for Santa, and cradling yourself in your mom’s lap are over, just remember. Close your eyes and give your memories a tight embrace. For your childhood is with you now more than it was even in those former days. Take the big leap, as you’re shielded by basking in the art of remembering.



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