Once I was at a restaurant with my parents. I slipped away to the bathroom and, as I washed my hands, two girls in their 20s came in giddily. I glanced at them applying eye makeup; they wore going-out clothes, clearly anticipating a night of fun. They noticed me and asked how old I was; then they said 10 was the best age ever. I stared at my reflection in the mirror and wondered what part the constraints of my age they referred to.

They say your brain doesn’t become fully developed until 25. I deem this to be the stage where I become an independent entity; where I can distinguish between my thoughts and those influenced by others; my desires, and that of those closest to me. I’ve always been of the sensitive kind, desperate to obey and to please, so maybe I’m just wistful that this milestone will cement this resolution.

At 25, you also become more set in your ways. Your brain’s neuroplasticity is in decline, and you have a life to which you can’t bid goodbye and start fresh. I’ve always wondered why so much attention is placed on children’s learning. Parents fervently watch their children at music recitals and monitor their homework progress at home. Children ask uninhibited questions about life and beyond. Yet when this same child enters the so-called “real world”, both parties lose interest in the child’s learning potentials in favor of their now adulting responsibilities.

As I age each year, I fear losing that youthful curiosity for life. I fear losing my desire to live the world, to learn their languages and cultures, to pursue hobby after hobby like a free-spirited person. I fear losing that, because that seems to be what the world is telling me to do. Settle, work, save.

But if I’m really, really honest with myself, I am just complaining because I feel lost. I’m still getting used to the blank roadmap. My life has always been dictated on pen and paper, and I always knew where I would be years from now–until I graduated college, at least. Now that no one is holding my hand and infinite possibilities present before me, I turn bitterly to the world, asking back my childhood.

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