I’m not old enough to be 17


I think I was around nine in this photo, and it pretty much sums up how I still act.

When I was about 15, I stopped growing. I’ve pretty much maxed out at 5’8. I lost all of my baby teeth pretty early, too—my last ones were gone at around 10 or 11.

I think I really was done growing when I was nine years old. I ended a little too early. I was always mature for my age and way too tall. I started to feel like I was too old for everyone else, and I thought maybe I was acting too girly. But I wasn’t really, because that’s when I stopped growing. I was the tallest until I was suddenly average, and I realized everyone caught up much faster than I expected. They kept growing, but I had stopped. Maybe I gained an inch or two, but I was really done at nine.

I’m still a nine-year-old parading around as a junior. I’ve been nine long enough to try new things—to learn what I like and don’t like—but in all honesty, I didn’t really learn that much. I still like what I liked back then.

I still like horses and dogs, and I still like stuffed animals to the point where I get emotionally attached to them at the store and need to buy one at almost every outing. I still sleep with my baby toys, and I still call them by their names and kiss them when they fall. I still hate to wear dresses and to dress up, and I still want to wear a sweatshirt at my wedding. Actually, that’s not true, because I still don’t want to get married.

I’ve been nine long enough to try new things—to learn what I like and don’t like—but in all honesty, I didn’t really learn that much.

Now, people like to dress up and look nice and have fun the way that people are supposed to have fun. They like to talk with their friends and have responsibilities and take care of other people. They like to grow up and make something of themselves. People who are my age like to communicate with others and let them know what is going on in their lives, and people my age like to learn about the world around them. People my age aren’t prepared for the worst, but they make use of what they can.

People my age are 17, but I’m still nine. I remember being really good at math when I was nine, so I’m not sure why math is now my worst grade. I don’t understand that I have to work for things, and I don’t know why someone can’t hold my hand and walk me through it. I don’t understand why I would even need that. 

I don’t know how to express things that nine-year-olds don’t understand. Things that I don’t understand. Why it’s not fair, why it doesn’t work, why this is happening, why I feel this way, why it isn’t like it was when I was supposed to be nine.

Things change, but I don’t. I’m nine and trying not to cry when I don’t do as well as I did on my elementary school worksheets. I’m nine and not wanting to go to the school dance just to do whatever it is that you do there. I’m nine and wondering why things keep moving and why I’m not at the center of it all.

I’m nine, and up until a second ago, I believed that caffeine stunted your growth, so I’m going to blame everything on the sips of my mom’s morning coffee. I can’t take responsibility—I’m nine.