When I was a teenager I desperately wanted to grow up. I did things just to DO them, to simulate some kind of authority over my life. Dye my hair black? Check. Give myself multiple piercings just to see if I could do it? Check. My parents gave me the biggest room in the basement and it was my masterpiece. I tore out pages of old art encyclopedias (thanks, Grandma) and glued them to my wall in intricate shapes of trees whose branches stretched across my walls and crept onto my ceiling. My boxes of acrylic paints and pastels piled up next to stacks of canvases portraying arms and hands, Mac Miller’s album artwork, and galaxies of colors trying to work together but ultimately morphing into a brown blob when my creativity took it too far. That sums up my process of maturing, actually – my creativity taking it too far.

I was bored with high school. I finished a year early and went to college at 17 years old, bright eyed and ready to show everyone how grown up I was. I remember wishing there was a way to legally change my age the way people change their names. I now wish so badly I could go back to 17 and stay in high school for that last year. I would’ve spent my money on a homecoming dress instead of cheap vodka. I would’ve wasted time worrying about who was going to ask me to prom instead of lying to a 22 year old boy about my age to get him to spend time with me. I was a candle burning at both ends hoping that when I reached the middle I’d be a real adult who was taken seriously. But I burnt out faster than I thought I would and when I reached the middle I was still just a little girl. I was still as clueless about the world as I was when I was 16. I used to long for my twenties and now that I’m here I’m just as clueless, I just have more bills to pay.

Now, I long for the girl who used to tediously paste artwork to her ceiling so she could lie in bed and marvel at it. I long for the girl whose biggest regret was piercing her belly button. She would spend days on a painting that didn’t turn out and not even care that she never perfected the color scheme. My process of growing up was a poorly planned color scheme and I keep reminding myself that the girl I used to be would still paste us to the ceiling and marvel at the mess of colors we’ve become. Underneath the brown blob there are vibrant metallics painted by the first time I saw my favorite band perform live. There are violent strokes of red left behind from the times I looked at someone I loved and felt my chest explode. Years worth of laughter stained by bright yellow splatters coat the streaks of blue that marked my heart aches. The hues that shaped me weren’t intended to ever blend, but they did. And the girl who used to litter her room with her own messy masterpieces now marvels at the one she’s created inside herself.

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