Over February break, I spent a lot of time hanging out with my grandpa Ted, who is currently living at the Bridgeport Senior Apartments while he recovers from the stroke he suffered last December.
Before moving to Bridgepoint, he stayed at the Subacute and Rehab Center where the old and sick live with, as my grandpa describes, “vulture” nurses who hover over everyone helping wherever possible. I visited him at the center before, but upon leaving, I never felt inspired, I never felt something that seemed important, I never felt happy to be so young.
During break I stopped by to drop off a breakfast donut. When I left Bridgepoint, I slowly hugged my grandpa who wobbled a little bit as he stood up from his dining room chair. I felt as if I was in slow motion to adjust to his speed. But once I had said my “goodbyes” and “love you’s,” I walked out of there at my normal, teenage pace, which felt unusually fast as I hurried past an old lady who tottered down the ballet barre-lined hallways. And then I thought, why am I running so fast? Why am I speeding through my days? Why don’t I appreciate being a teen?
I spend too much time worrying about my future; what college I will attend, what job I will pursue, which man I will marry. For the past few months, I have only talked about how much I want to get out of here. I worry about my future, hoping that I can achieve all that I want to. But worrying about it all is just wasting my time. Whatever I do now, whether it be overworking myself or enjoying what is left of my high school years, I will still end up having great future.
Sometimes when I walk by an elderly man or woman, I look up to see them smiling at me. I used to think that this was just an act of kindness, being friendly to strangers. But now, I think it’s more than the gentleness of the elderly.
I think some seniors smile at us because they envy our youth. They miss their teenage years when the entire world opened its arms out wide. They could do almost anything they wanted. There were so many opportunities for them. Being around us teens makes them feel young. We remind them of their youth.
So as memories of their adolescence, I think we owe it to them and to ourselves to enjoy our youth. We don’t need to spend countless hours planning our futures that will inevitably happen. I am not saying that we should brush off change and neglect new responsibilities that arise while growing up; what I am saying is that we should take advantage of the opportunities we have right now, the opportunities that will disappear as we age. Rather than missing out on what our teenage years have to offer, we need to enjoy our youth, and I for one am going to strive to do more of that from now on.