A quiet change


“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

-Marry Shelley in Frankenstein

With a weekend bracketed by one of my last high school football games and the senior dinner dance, reading this line in my novel during English homework stopped me. 

My typical reading habits involve me pouring through a novel like a Nascar driver–very rapid and with the least amount of stops possible. 

However, my rapid pace was hastened by that simple and all-encompassing line. It felt particularly pertinent to my life. I underlined it because it seemed to fit the essence of my life as a senior, a year where my normal is about to change. 

Yet, the longer I stared at it, the less and less I agreed with the phrase. I think abrupt change can be sorrowful, troublesome, shocking, and more. But, that type of change isn’t the most painful thing to the human mind. 

I would argue it is far weepier to experience a gradual change and not realize it until said change has already happened.

The easiest way for me to express this phenomenon is through the ever-useful anecdote. 

As previously mentioned, I was at the senior dinner dance this weekend. An annual event dedicated to celebrating a class of seniors. One of the many things on the docket was a slideshow displaying baby and toddler photos of all of us; the picture would appear and the name followed suit a few seconds later. We collectively turned it into a game of sorts, trying to guess the name before it would appear. It was simple. It was heartwarming. It was a pure few moments of joy. 

But, as seems to be a tendency of mine, I thought more deeply about later that night. In the photos, we all were so small—new to the world and with a life of possibility before them. The purest example of children

It struck me deeply how much we no longer were them; the class of 2020 are children no more. 

— It struck me deeply how much we no longer were them; the class of 2020 are children no more.

I wouldn’t be candid in saying that that epiphany wasn’t at all painful. 

I’ve matured since I was a kid—we all have. But the entire time I remained myself. I had grown into a better, brighter me, but it never really felt like I had aged. Seeing the evidence so glaringly conspicuous before me that we were all young adults now made the change clear to me. 

I had grown up. We had grown up. And we didn’t even really realize it. 

It’s a strange feeling, to have gone through such an incredible change so quietly. It wasn’t a bad change per se—we all need to grow up to live our lives to the fullest—but it is sad to realize all your days of mindless merriment and childlike creativity is finished. 

Not the same pain as a quick rip of a bandaid but rather a gradual and quiet change. It was a bittersweet realization. My life as an adult, my endless opportunity to make my way in the world is before me. But it’s a sweetly sorrowful realization that the curtain has closed on the first production of my life.