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Rude awakenings.

How do you know your decisions are for the best? How can you be sure you're doing the most grown-up thing and making the responsible choices? How can you tell if you're being mature about something or have just been deluded (by your judgment or by other seemingly equal peers) into thinking you're mature about it? How will you know if you're doing what's right or just what's right for now?

Where do you draw the line between selfishness and compromise? When should you stop listening to others who only want what's best for you and start listening to yourself? How do you justify being assertive as opposed to being arrogant?

How can you be sure that what your family and friends speak of you is who you really are? What assurance can their kind words give you when you feel like the complete opposite of it? How sure are you of yourself -- are you positive this is who you actually are or just who you think you are?

How do you know about all these things?

When I was twelve, I thought being eighteen was acquiring this great sense of maturity -- you know enough about the world to handle it. Or at least know you can handle it. I always saw eighteen as this age of enlightenment, where everything will start to make sense, and you'd never have to question or doubt your decisions because you'll just know what's right. I thought with the turn of that year, you'll suddenly feel all wise and do the right thing to do when the situation calls for it.

And yet, here I am, at eighteen, with a couple of pretty decent decisions, and a truckload of really bad ones. Nothing really major, but still disappointing I-could've-done-better ones. I haven't done anything close to spectacular to prove my twelve-year-old self right and my eighteen-year-old self proud. And it frustrates me how I just can't seem to get anything right. Or that when I finally do, there's ten more mistakes coming back to haunt me. Why can't I ever do things the right, adult way? Why can't I strike the perfect balance between being a kid and being a grown-up? How come I can't tell whether I'm being selfish or just wanting to get what I deserve? Why can't I be this better version of myself that everyone expects of me? I've always been told to just always be myself and yet I can't help but equate my real self, this natural Karla state, to this irresponsible, immature, spoiled kid who can't get anything going.

I'm scared that one day, people are just going to give up on me and see that I'm not really who they all thought I was, who they all wanted me to be. I'm scared to consider the possibility that I've just been putting up a brave mask on everyday, telling myself I'm an okay person, that I'm smart, I'm all grown-up, I'm on the right track to maturity -- when in fact, I'm not brave, I'm not strong, I'm just a kid.

I try. Trust me, I try.

But will I ever really get there?

(This is what I get for reading too much into "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor for Eng42)