When I was a preteen, I remember getting flack from extended family for lugging my old Nintendo DS around and always venturing over to the toy aisle in stores where we were shopping. Teachers marked out my harmless doodles on the corners of homework with red ink or took away my art supplies until the end of the period. In elementary school, I was thrown in and out of special education classes because of my overactive imagination. It often felt like I was getting side-eyed for following my interests and doing things I happen to like, no matter what form they took.
At the time, the criticism bothered me plenty, but as I’ve gotten older, I care less and less. It’s cliched to say, but life is too short to spend it worrying about what others think. Although I still find myself bothered by feeling “immature” or behind everyone in life (enough so to write a post about it), I‘ve made an active effort to stop censoring myself around others. I no longer berate myself for living my life the way I’d like to live it.
Remembering the quote “growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional,” helps me to settle down and think things through when I’m feeling down. Over time, it’s gotten to the point where I’m unfazed by what people may think of me or how I may do things. Although it may catch me by surprise when someone gives me the side-eye for doing things my own way, I remind myself that as long as I’m happy and content, I really shouldn’t be bothered. I’m a firm believer in there being no age limit on harmless fun or interests. Other people’s mental hangups shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem but their own.
If I’ve learned anything since starting (and graduating!) university, it’s that I’m different, but also very much the same person I was when I moved into my dormitory back in 2017. While I might not have reached many of life’s milestones yet, I feel like I’ve finally grown into my own person and I know that I’ll get there one day. At the end of the day, I’m different, but the same. If anything, I know for a fact that I’ve changed for the better.