I grew up


Back when Stella just wanted to “grow up already”

Stella Herman


I was seven at the 32nd Street house. My dad was a pastor and my mom had her own cleaning company. My parents were happy. My sisters and I had no technology and spent all of our time building tee-pees in the woods or taking mud baths in the creek. I was positive, energetic and loved making people laugh. I enjoyed going to school in my fun outfits. That birthday, I wished I would just grow up already and have my own tablet. 

   I was 11 at 325 Woodland Avenue. My sisters and I all had a tablet. My dad was alternating between jobs and was not around a lot. My mom was pregnant with my younger brother, but always seemed like she was faking her smile. My sisters and I had fun together playing with the neighbor kids. We had a pool in the backyard, but it broke down a lot, which stressed my dad out. I got dumped by my first friend. I realized some people couldn’t handle my personality and were annoyed with me. That birthday, I wished I would just grow up already and get to high school.

   I was 14 at 375 Tr Trail. I was in high school. I started thinking about stuff more. I realized my dad is an alcoholic and is really struggling mentally. My mom wants to protect her teenage girls and young son but she also wants their dad in her kids’ life. My sister packed a suitcase to stay at her friend’s house, and is leaving for college soon. I lost my friends and got on meds so I wouldn’t be too much for people. School is so draining and repetitive. For fun, I just went on my phone for hours. That birthday, I wished to just be young again and have my old family back. 

   I am 16 at 1868 West Lakewood Blvd and I never got that back. 

   I know people tell you to listen to your elders, listen to your authorities, listen to your parents. I’m going to ask you to do something you may not trust, but listen to 7-year-old Stella. She has a lot of insight on how to not take life for granted. Don’t waste what you do have in hope that there could be more ; it’s not worth it. 

   A peer described growing up  as ”learning from your past mistakes and gaining responsibility, which helps you become more successful as you grow into an adult.” At first glance, we are excited to be able to mentally grow and gain more responsibility and control. We are ready to know what we want and who we are and take care of ourselves. We get to make money, form relationships, live on our own, and make our dreams come true. Is being mentally mature sometimes the best? Is being able to comprehend your surroundings healthy? I will always have the same answer: it depends on the person. 

   Growing up, my mom would always say to me through her tears, “I’ll explain when you are older.” While that leaves a kid with uncertainty, it also kept me happy and hopeful. At age 11, I told my friend I was so drained. At age 5, my brother knew what suicide was. It’s scary. We grow up at the rate that we need to. Some kids need to mature faster to take care of what needs to be taken care of. “It only made you stronger.” “It happened for a reason.” “It helped you mature.” Who cares? Let me be a kid. I will grow up when I need to. It’s scary gaining knowledge, it’s scary being aware. But not for everyone. At age 13, some people are learning how to do their own laundry. At age 13, I got a goodbye text from my dad.

   When you’re young, I know it is easy to lose track of what is important because you have a young mind and you are not aware of what your future holds and you just want to fit in and have more freedom. It is almost impossible to ask a kid to stop worrying about their future because they’re just excited to get to the next stage. 

   I’m not asking you to relate your age to mine, but learn from the mistakes I made. Instead of trying to race your age, keep racing the timer on the microwave. Instead of complaining about having to “take five more bites of food”, be thankful that you’re able to have a family dinner. 

Stella Herman and her dad