816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider: Not being ready is perfectly normal

“Mom, you need to share my story. It might help someone.”

“I’m not ready,” my then 17-year-old daughter, Bekah, said with terror in her voice.

“You don’t really have a choice at this point,” I quietly told her. “Ready or not your senior year is here.”

“I might,” she mumbled, clearly in thoughtful planning.

While I understood her motivation, I can’t say it was a good plan: Hide in room and watch as much Netflix as humanly possible while embroidering.

Over the course of the next several months she embroidered tea towels for church ladies, pillow cases for her friends, a table cloth, napkins, and throw-pillows.

She was a very prolific embroiderer.

But it didn’t stop time. As the months passed she kept insisting she wasn’t ready while her senior year flowed on.

“I don’t know what I want to do with my life, how can I pick a college if I don’t know that?”

She didn’t know enough about the world, she said, to go out into it. Whenever she thought about life after the end of the school year the vision was too blurry and fuzzy to understand.

It freaked her out.

I completely understood.

When I look at my daughter I see that she got my eyes and height. When she writes me notes I see that she inherited my sense of humor and crappy handwriting. And when she flees to her room scared about her future and unwilling to accept that she is growing up? I see myself at her age.

My childhood was pretty great, I didn’t see the appeal of being an adult. When senior year arrived my brain froze in panic. College? FREEZE! Leaving home? FREEZE! Voting, taxes, bills and relying on myself for my existence? FROZEN SOLID!

But telling her that I understood because I was exactly the same way at her age didn’t help. She didn’t believe me when I told her that she wasn’t alone, that a lot of teenagers feel like that.

“That’s not true! All my friends know where they want to go to school and what they want to study! They are all excited about senior year and I’m terrified because it means I’m about to be an adult and I’m not ready!”

“A lot of those kids will change their major or school. Some are just lying, they have no clue either.”

She went back to Doctor Who and embroidery floss.

The year raced forward, her embroidery pile grew and our Netflix subscription got a workout. She kept telling me she wasn’t ready to be an adult. I kept telling her that at some point she would be. That at some point excitement would overtake terror. At some point she would realize the perks of adulthood.

She kept doubting me.

She did the bare minimum of college searching. She failed her driver’s test a second time. She wouldn’t register to vote and if we talked at all about life after high school she retreated to her room.

Then the year on her Class of T-shirt and the calendar matched.

In January she told me that she would love to be a middle school English teacher.

In February she decided on a college.

In March she picked a prom dress and traveled halfway across the country by herself.

And then came April. One week in April actually. She got a job, finally got her driver’s license, registered to vote and hung up the cap and gown that had been in a bag for a month.

“I’m adulting!” She said with a smile in her tears. “I’m ready.”

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.