Well.... This is going to be a bit of an odd question.
I feel like I can't be a kid. Yeah, that's going to need a little explaining...
Ever since I was a young pup, I've always been a bit more serious and analytical. I would make complicated plans to get out of things, ponder things young people aren't really supposed to ponder.
Now that I'm older, some medical issues and very dark things in my life have made me even more mature, and it's beginning to become a problem. While most teenagers are out having fun, I'm pondering about if there's a God or not, my future (that's a big one), and other things. All this over thinking has really made me a bit more bitter and cynical.
Lately, my mom spoke to me about this. She said I acted way too old for my age, and that I should start acting my own age. But... how? I can't just push these nagging thoughts aside, my brain just won't stop! I want to go out and live a wild party life like the others; I want to be a high schooler.
Then, there's another part of me saying that this is normal for someone my age, and another part saying I should just stop trying, my innocence is long gone.
This may sound like a silly problem, but I feel like I'm not going to have a childhood to remember. I never really acted like a kid, and I don't know where to start. I don't even know if this all makes sense, to be frank. Thank you for reading. I'm a huge fan of what you do, and this will be my first letter to you.
Your confused canine,
Pixel (age 14)
* * *
Yours is not a silly question at all, and thanks for asking it. There are a couple possibilities as to why you are more mature-acting than your tender years would indicate. For one, you mention having gone through some “dark things” in your life. If, in your early years, you faced a lot of tragedy and/or a lot of responsibilities being heaped on your shoulders, this can age you very quickly. I’ve known people, for example, who are the oldest child of several siblings and their parent had to work (the other parent being absent), so they were saddled with raising their younger brothers and sisters, assuming the role of parent as a teenager. Being asked to shoulder adult-sized responsibilities can definitely age you. If anything like that has happened to you, it is certainly understandable that you have lost your childhood and have been forced to grow up far too quickly.
There is another possibility, though, and that is that you possess an old soul. Whether you believe what I’m about to tell you or not, that is up to you, but I have been told that I have an old soul. As a kid, my older sister used to say I behaved like a grandpa. She wasn’t far wrong. I wasn’t much for playing, although I did some. I much preferred time alone. I liked to read and listen to classical music.
I believe that our spirits can go through life on Earth (or, possibly, elsewhere) more than once, and that some of us have been doing so longer than others—not necessarily as humans, either. Most of us don’t remember what happened previous to our current lives, yet much of that experience and wisdom can be ingrained in our spirits and carries over to the current life.
If this is true for you, then you really haven’t been robbed of your childhood—you already had one or several, you just don’t recall them.
But just because you aren’t experiencing a childlike period in this life doesn’t mean you can’t have a childlike wonder in your life. Case in point: you’re a furry who has a canine fursona named Pixel. That is not something that a jaded, world-weary adult would do. Therefore, you still have that childlike (note: not childish but childlike) imagination that is so vital to keeping us young and full of hope for the future.
Instead of mourning the loss of childishness, be appreciative that you still harbor this childlike quality, and are way ahead of the game when it comes to maturity and, I suspect, some wisdom as well. These qualities will serve you well if you embrace them; they can help you avoid making a lot of stupid mistakes, such as partying too hard, getting drunk or high or both and doing something incredibly stupid (car accident, pregnancy, STDs, etc. etc.). There are many many many things you can do that are enjoyable that have nothing to do with acting like a drunken idiot.
Innocence can be overrated. It leaves you vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Instead of being innocent, fill your heart with wonder, love, and kindness. These are all superior qualities to mere innocence.
Your Fellow Old Soul,
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.