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When keeping up  with the latest fashion and technology feels like the most important thing, it’s hard to stay true to yourself.  There is so much  pressure to buy Keds shoes, understand all the dirty jokes, and  get over 30 “likes” on Instagram.  Weekend’s are spent on Netflix, watching episode after episode of “Pretty Little Liars”  just so you can talk about what happened to Alison DiLaurentis’ character.  Before you know it, hours of your life are wasted just trying to fit in.

That was me last year.  I spent so much energy trying to fit in with my peers, struggling to keep up with the newest things.  I’d beg my mom for a  phone and complained about my not cool non-Kipling pencil case.  I wanted to be able to just go out with friends whenever I felt like it.   I wanted to be like all the girls in my class who’d go to Town Center on Fridays. They’re so grown up, I’d think, they’re so lucky.

Things changed one afternoon in Hebrew school. As I was walking to my 7th grade class, I saw all the girls in my brother’s third grade class huddled together, laughing.  These eight year-olds gossiped and checked for notifications on their iPhones before stuffing them back into the pockets of  their mini shorts.  These girls were acting like teenagers, working hard to live up to what they thought was cool.   Then I  got to my classroom.  All the seventh grade girls were doing the exact  same thing.  During our class they were so attached to their phones that  they didn’t even bother to look up while our teacher told us about the unspeakable tragedies of the Holocaust.

That day I realized that I was trying too hard to fit in.   I’d stopped doing the things I loved.  I was so caught up in trying to grow up that I forgot that I am in 8th grade.  I am only a kid for a few more years, then I am an adult forever.

I brought this up during HOPE Club at my school.  We talked about kids growing up too fast to fit in. We spoke about why this might be so. One person said that parents should be more responsible and not give their children everything they want. Another remarked that technology and social media were to blame. We talked about  feeling  pressure to be like the older kids. Someone brought up that we  learn from older siblings who set the example for behavior that is cool.

After this discussion, I thought a lot about growing up too fast.  I decided we need to value our childhood.  Before we know it, we’ll be adults. As an adult, we’ll have to manage all the responsibilities that come with being one—such as, bills, caring for others, and handling medical and legal situations.  So now, let’s do what we love.  Let’s resist the pressure to speed up our lives.

These days I am trying to focus on me and doing what I like.   I hope you will too.  If you need some help, remember these three things:

  1. Focus on being happy
  2. Enjoy every minute the way YOU want to
  3. Be yourself

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