I once diagnosed myself with Peter Pan Syndrome. Medically, this is a psychological condition where adults have the emotional capability and mental maturity of an adolescent. Although I never acted like a young child and I yearned for several experiences and aspects of being an adult, I often found myself longing for the security of childhood.
I recently cleaned my room. Not the “routine-feather-duster-and-vacuum” clean, but the “go-through-every-single-item-I-own” kind of clean. The spick and span result of organizing my possessions always satisfies me, but this time was pleasing in an unexpected way. I hadn’t cleaned so intensely in quite a while, but that’s not the reason that it took me an especially long time.
The first area I tackled was my bookshelves and book piles. It’s impossible to enter my room and not learn something about me; I am a bookworm. Not only that, but one can also follow my development from a time when the written language was a foreign one, to the word-hungry addict I am today.
Their contents vary from The Boxcar Children and Pony Pals to Jonathan Safran Foer and Wally Lamb. Going through my bookshelves is generally a formality, and a quick one at that; it’s rare that I am willing to relinquish even one. This time, however, I did more than pause. Running my hands over their spines, I felt the need to read their familiar titles one by one.
Had my mom walked in, she would have found me sitting on the floor, engulfed by newly assembled stacks. For hours I sat. I pored over their titles, their covers, their pages. With every word I was overwhelmed with a wave of memories and emotions. The waterlogged pages of Life of Pi made my skin tingle with the feeling of salty ocean water from a long ago family trip to the beach. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology flooded my mind with fond memories of my time at both state and national Latin conventions. Then I came across Peter Pan and I remembered my diagnosis. The realization that I was growing up assaulted me and for a moment, I was in a state of despair. I didn’t want to leave the security and stability of home. I didn’t want to have to make choices that would determine the rest of my life.
But it was only for a moment. Underneath Peter Pan, a sunny and yellow book seized my attention and soothed my soul. As I slowly took hold of Nancy Drew, a realization took hold of me. The reason I loved reading Nancy Drew as a child was because her brazen confidence had left me quivering in awe. I longed to be her. I dreamt of one day becoming an independent, headstrong adult like Nancy. Suddenly, I wasn’t afraid anymore; but instead, I was excited. As my fears and trepidations dissolved, I realized that becoming the future me that I aspire towards is a process where the steps are just as important as the final product. My future is a mystery that I used to be afraid to solve. I needed to find a cure for my disease, and with the help of a lovable teen sleuth, I did just that.
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