Life isn’t what they said it would be

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By Karen Pegueros

Illustration by Rachel Carroll, President of National Arts Honors Society
Illustration by Rachel Carroll, President of National Arts Honors Society

I remember it like it was yesterday. Squeals of joy, and bouncing off the walls as I ran around what I thought was my palace. Before we traded in our coloring books for text books, things were much simpler. My biggest worry was if my mom was going to let me have two cookies after dinner.

Back then the monsters lived under my bed and in the closet, not in my mind. Mommy was my biggest hero, and daddy was the king. I wasn’t concerned about my grades, let alone getting into a good college. There was nothing a tight hug and kiss couldn’t fix.

When I was little, the only death I knew of was by natural causes, and the only friends that died were fish, not people I had grown close to. My saddest moments never lasted longer than a few minutes. The tallest place I had ever been was on top of my dad’s shoulders, not the roof of a building overlooking the lost souls in the city.

Naps were a pain and the thing I least looked forward to during the day. Going to sleep late was cool, not the dreaded normality. Nights were spent in my bed with stuffed animals piled to the ceiling, not staring at the ceiling until the first rays of light shone through my blinds.

My sister was my biggest role model, not my biggest enemy. Walking her to school tortured me because all I wanted was to go with her to learn. Just the thought of attending school made me burst with excitement, not with anxiety and stress. I always thought I would have a million friends, not sit alone at lunch.

My favorite outfit was all pink with different patterns that would give a designer a heart attack. Now I dress in all black. Brands were just random words on a tag. I didn’t care how I looked, let alone how my friends looked.

Hair was just the annoying thing on my head. I never bothered worrying about it because my mom always had that covered. That was my biggest pain, the brush ripping my thin hair from my small head as my mom attempted to pull my hair back into two tight pigtails.

Holidays were the things I looked forward to most. Birthdays meant one year closer to freedom, not one year closer to a peaceful never-ending slumber. Halloween meant dressing up and receiving enough candy to last me a lifetime, not summoning the dead with a Ouija board. Christmas meant Santa Claus was coming to town with a bunch of presents that had my name plastered all over the wrapping paper, not looking in between the couch to find spare change so I could buy my mom a present.

Becoming a teenager meant having a cell phone and living at the mall with my friends. Turning 16 meant getting my license and my dream car. Being a senior in high school meant being nominated for Prom Queen and chased by all the boys. The adult life meant being able to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Little did I know, I was drastically wrong. The teenage life isn’t filled with rainbows and unicorns like it’s pictured in the movies, but instead with stress and tough decisions. School isn’t about learning anymore; it is about passing. Sleep is a luxury I can’t afford. True love only exists in the movies. My dreams seem to drift away farther and farther with time. Happiness isn’t something everybody has, and anxiety attacks are an everyday thing.

No one ever told me growing up was a trap. Did they tell you?