Leaving Home and the Death of Childhood

Marti Weary, Rescue Copy Editor

In my mind, I often compare leaving home to dying of a terminal illness. While the comparison isn’t perfect, and callous at its worst, it provides me with the best way to describe my feelings about growing up and leaving home. Imagine this: an invisible clock ticks down on your last moments of existence in this world. Nobody can say for certain how long you have left, but everyone has narrowed it down to a few months, maybe a year or two if you can manage it. The Other Side beckons to you, obscure and inscrutable; the faintest of blurry outlines give you useless hints as to what may lie beyond. Maybe you can squint at them, or study texts about them, just do anything to try to understand what they hold in store for you. Voices from the Other Side tell you horrible and wonderful things, and all sorts of tips and tricks for making it once you arrive. Maybe you finally start to understand; maybe you finally grasp what lies beyond that shadowy veil and maybe you feel ready for what’s coming.

Or maybe, you’re even more worried than before, now aware of a dozen new prerequisites and challenges.

In any case, you know that you’re going to leave your comfortable world behind for something completely new and different. This is why I compare leaving home to a slow, inevitable death. Because leaving home is the definitive death of childhood. Even though some childhoods are shorter than others, leaving home is that clear line that almost everyone crosses at some point in their life. Being seniors on the cusp of adulthood, myself and my peers are on the edge of that line. To be perfectly honest, I am afraid. It is not a mortal fear, to be sure, but a steady, unwavering apprehension of what the future holds in store for me. Even if I appear to bravely stride towards that horizon, I am frequently plagued by doubts and insecurities about what my life is going to grow into. It’s not that I haven’t been prepared, but that new world of adulthood is still so foreign and menacing to me, sometimes it feels like it’s going to eat me alive. All I know for sure about any of it is that, eventually, I have to cross that line into individuality.

However, it is clear that adulthood is not a complete death; it’s more of a rebirth. All of the aches and pains are nothing more than growing pains, meant to temper us for the road ahead. Applications, school, jobs; exerting the effort to balance and manage these things is going to make us struggle, for sure, but in the end we will have learned and become stronger for our efforts. The fear is only that of the unknown, because we know that we can only move forward from here. So, I say to myself, this is not the slow, inevitable death of my childhood. It is the edging, fiery rebirth of my life as an individual, and a buffer of strength to hold me up in the trials I will undoubtedly face during my lifetime. As afraid as I may be, I try to hold myself together and bear this oncoming weight of adulthood. I wish success for my friends, too; we’re all doing this together, and we’re going to come out of all of our struggles better than ever.