Some say age is irrelevant, that it is only a number, like time or year. I would beg to differ, as these people are wrong. They have yet to experience a jump in years. Their life, rushing past at barely a blink. It’s a dizzying sight, almost like watching a television show on fast forward. The colors blur, the sound squeaks, and none of it will make sense.
My life is like the fast forwarding television. If one left on long enough, the show would come to an end before one even really watched it. This is my life you see, a life on fast forward. All those grades I skipped are now my greatest regret. At the time before I skipped these grades I was leaping before I looked. Leaping to the next grade, only never realizing the consequences. First, third, then sixth. In the end I wind up wind up at the end of the road. An irreversible path-my graduation at the age of fifteen. The episode of my childhood has ended.
Still, reality never fails to amaze me. The what-ifs and when will I’s of my life were really starting to sinking in. No longer will I have the chance to experience anything most people my age have. No more chances to experience a menial summer job, go to camp, or to simply learn how to drive. Nothing. Not a chance to make friends. All that was left was the chance to go college. To live an adult life far beyond my years. Where, if you will believe me, age will matter.
Lonely can be described in many different ways. If you asked anyone what lonely looks or feels like, many would say being all by yourself, possibly alone in room. Yet there are many occasions in which I was surrounded by clouds of people, only to feel isolated entirely. As an only child, I had no one to talk to at home except my parents. School was a different battle entirely. Classmates had two different reactions to a younger student in their class, none of which were pleasing. Many would ignore me completely, not wanting a younger person in the same grade as them. Others were kind of like candy apples. On the outside they looked \and inviting, like they were there for me. Until I bit down and dug deeper. There I found they were bitter, pretending to be my friend for a variety of reasons; whether it was to steal my ideas or because a teacher told them to. After elementary school I skipped socializing altogether and became homeschooled. Still the hope remains that, someday, I will be less lonely.
As my parents drive me to the college I continue this self-reflection on my life, trying to savor these last moments as a child with my parents, but we arrived all too soon. After a tearful goodbye they left, leaving me stranded. It was almost like a new life; this foreign place I knew very little about. More importantly, I realize, no one knew anything about me. This discovery brings a sliver of hope to me.
Thankfully my room at the dorm will only be occupied by me for the year. I cannot imagine living with a complete stranger. Having little experience interacting with other, a complete stranger on the other side of the room would frighten me. A roommate would also ruin my chances of becoming a “normal” college student. If I could conceal my age, would everyone accept me more?
The next morning I woke up to dim sunlight filtering over my face. “That’s strange,” I speculated sleepily. My bedroom faced away from the golden rays of the early morning sun. “Why was it so bright? I am so tired,” my thoughts jumbled together. Beep! Beep! Beep! I jumped, suddenly alert. Scrambling quickly I snatched my phone off of the unfamiliar nightstand. As I shut off the irksome alarm, all of yesterday’s events come flooding back, hitting me like a giant wave. College. It was real and I was going to be late for class.
The days rolled by, and I wasn’t any more successful at making friends than I was before, even as I had no major incidents regarding my age. Ignoring this mild fact, I put all my spare time into studying. Still, being lonely is never fun, especially in a strange place. I decided I needed to push the effort further, so I introduced myself to some students. They were nice and invited me to come over later and study with them. The rest of the day I floated on a cloud, happy as a clam.
When I got there the first thing I did was tell them how happy I was to be invited to join them. The reaction I got was not very pleasing. “Um…thanks? I don’t really know you.” My smile dropped. What happened between the time I met her and now? “I met you this morning. Remember?” I pressed. “Right.” She waved her hand dismissively. Then she abruptly turns around. “Oh wait. I did invite you didn’t I. Silly me,” she smiled and offered me something to drink. It smelled strange like... alcohol? If I wasn’t mistaken, none of the girls were old enough to drink, me especially. “What is this? I wonder if it is a good idea to drink this,” I implied heavily. The girls shrugged.
Do you play a game?” Not wanting to rock the boat with my potential friends, I agreed and set down my books. The leader, whose name apparently was Kelly, turned to whisper something to her friends. One of the other girls in the group pulled out a small keychain with a laser light at the end. It turns out that the rules were very simple. All I had to do was follow the dot of light around the room as the others followed me. “What a silly game, is this what adults play?” I thought to myself, but not wanting to make a fuss I remained silent. In the end we wound up away from all the books and started heading towards a door.
The dot of light jumped over the threshold of the door to what I assumed was a bathroom. There was no way of knowing what was there, but I could make out the faint outline of some objects. Keeping up with the game, I stepped inside, oblivious to the fact everyone else had stopped following me. Bang! I whirled around to find the door shut. There was a metallic click, alerting me that I was trapped. Pressing my ear to the door I could detect laughing on the other side and possibly a mutter of she’s too uptight. Sighing in defeat I began to pace around the room looking for an alternative way out. As I paced around I realized the door connected the dorm rooms, just like the useless door in my room. With no way out I flopped on to one of the beds.
“Hey! Watch out.” a voice snapped from underneath me. Startled, I jumped off and backed away slowly while managing to yelp a quick “I’m sorry”. “I just need a way out of here,” I pleaded. The person got out of bed and peered at me and deliberated this for a moment. “I believe you. You don’t look like you belong in there.” Now what exactly did the person mean by that? “What do you mean?” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer. The next words uttered, I don’t really remember, but were ones I would hold onto forever.
Suddenly Kelly opened the door. I walked out as quickly and dignified as I could. “Why did you do that for?” As I gazed at the girls taking note that none of them looked the least bit remorseful. Quickly I scooped up my things preparing to leave. “Wait,” Kelly calls, but it’s too late. I realize their company is not good for me.
As lonely as I am, I reflect on all the ways I am better off without Kelly’s group. The decision to stay away from Kelly is hard. She is the only one here who knows me and has apologized numerous times about the incident. Still I must stay strong. Kelly is playing a dangerous mind game; one where someone gets hurt. If I trust her, what would happen? It’s going to be a long lonely year.
Years later, my ever imaginative mind sparks back to those years. Today was graduation, which seems far from the time I got here even though I am graduating early. I will miss all the wonderful people I met. After I stopped trying to be older than my age, I found more people appreciate the real me. Though sometimes, I go back to the time when I first met Kelly. It feels like only recently I found out that Kelly’s group had gotten expelled from school after setting a reckless prank on one of the teachers, even though it happened just a few months after I first met them. What would have happened if I stuck with Kelly and those other girls? Where would I be now? My thoughts are interrupted as my name is called to step on to the podium. I do so and look around breathlessly. The what-ifs and when will I’s of my life start to set in again, but this time I am hopeful for my future.