This is a teen-written article from our friends at Teenink.com.
My brother is leaving for college soon, and my mom has been pestering him to clean out his desk and shelves. As we sort through the junk, we find a pen case from fourth grade, a souvenir bottle my dad brought from China when we were in elementary school, and a crystalline rock from our trip to the mines.
Most significant of these artifacts is my brother's journal, which he has had since elementary school and has filled with creative writing. I always made fun of his ideas, but he was tough-skinned and persistent, and now he plans on using his college education to one day write books from those stories.
As I watch my brother throw out some papers, I notice how much we have grown up, how far we have come in life, and how much has changed. My brother looks like a man with his beard, collared shirt, and dress pants. I think back to how he looked in elementary school -- dorky glasses, toothy grin, and constant optimism as he wrote in his journal. I can't believe he's going to college. We are separated by just 13 months, and he has been my best friend since day one. Now it'll be months until I see him again.
He was planning a trip for us to go to California to visit our cousin, but I have decided he should go without me. I think it's best if we part ways sooner rather than later so he can come of age on this trip and realize that he isn't one of two parts; he is his own person. "Have fun on your own," I say with heavy eyes. Then we hug and I tell him not to call for advice while he is away, because it is his time, not ours.
But his journey won't be too different from mine. While he is off without me, in California and at college, I will be exploring my own independence. My experience will help me become an individual, and so leaving home to pursue a higher education will be easier for me.
My brother's absence will allow me step out of my home environment and reach out to a more diverse crowd. I envy him for leaving, because he is entering a place I want to experience too: the world outside my suburban shelter that allows exposure to deeper meanings and complexities. This is the world I sampled while taking an acting course at Fordham University last summer. This is the world I am eager to partake in.
I give my brother a hug and tell him to be excited for his trips. I know he is ready for the next four years. I'll be heartbroken the day he leaves, but I'll use those emotions as motivation to make the most of my last year in high school. I hand him his journal and tell him not to leave his creativity behind. Now it's time to get ready for my next four years, and my new, mature sense of self will help me through it.
- Nicholas M., Franklin Lakes, NJ
This piece has also been published in Teen Ink's monthly print magazine.