top of page
  • rio

the melancholia of growing up



I have been trying to figure out what being an adult means, but the older I get, the more I feel I’ve “grown up”. At the same time, I find myself feeling sad or missing the times which I cannot return to. This time, I will share my experience and feelings through the journey to adulthood.


I am not sure what defines an adult, but I have some ideas of “what adults do” in my mind. For example, you buy something expensive after you worked hard to make money, and enjoy Friday night with your friends after work, or you miss school life when you see young students wearing school uniforms. I guess I got these ideas of what adults do from dramas or older people around me. I now long to do these things after I finish university, not for any particular reason, but I wonder how I will feel when I make them happen.


The other day, I watched a movie called “Little Women”. I heard it was about the life of women, and that’s why I got interested and went to a rental video store to rent it out. This movie is actually about four sisters who have different values, living in Massachusetts, the United States in the 19th century.


After watching it, I was thinking about the line “I can’t believe childhood is over”. The main character, Jo, said this at the scene when she asked her sister, Meg, not to get married the day before it is supposed to go ahead. I thought that Jo felt that her sister would be taken far away by her partner. I felt a kind of loneliness in becoming an adult from this line. The movie contrasts Jo’s girlhood and adulthood, a happy time with her family and a time of struggling to be a writer. Jo wanted her girlhood, which was imperfect, purposeless but filled with happiness, to last forever. But life must go on and four sisters started to walk different paths as they grew up. I painfully emphasized with the line and how Jo felt. I still live with my family, but I also feel the same as Jo did sometimes.


At the *Coming-of-Age Day, I think I felt a bit sad to be a grown-up. I did not go to the ceremony because I was studying abroad in the US. I do not regret not being there because to study abroad was one of the things that I really wanted to do during my university life. However, I feel a pang of jealousy over young people celebrating every year. This year, my two-year younger sister turned 20, and I saw my sister or her friends looking more beautiful in furisode** than usual. We used to have fights and get into mischief. I do not know what my sister’s friends do now, but I also played with them when we were kids. I enjoyed my childhood as Jo and her sisters did. When I saw my sister and her friends wearing furisode, the memories came back to me and I missed them so bad. It was a touching moment for me to see how they had grown up.

*Coming-of-Age Day: a holiday in Japan held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held to congratulate and celebrate all young people who have reached or will reach 20 years old, which is a legal age of adulthood in Japan, between the 2nd of April in the previous year and 1st of April in the current year.

**furisode: a long-sleeved kimono which is traditionally and still considered for unmarried women to wear on special occasions.


I have finally finished my student life and will start a job this month. This fact made me think “I can’t believe childhood is over”, just like Jo said in that movie. Fortunately, I could focus on studying while I was a student. Of course, there were a few things that I did not want to do. I hated long-distance running in PE class, I struggled with making new friends every year, and I almost decided to drop out of school when I was in a rebellious phase. At that time, it was really hard for me to keep going to school, but looking back at my school days, I miss such moments. I think it is because now I know I was surrounded by people who helped me out, and I became stronger through the experience. I am stepping forward in my life. I embrace every experience, good and bad, thinking “it was foolish to think that way” or “that experience made who I am now” and I think I can say that I’ve grown up.


When you place yourself in a new environment, you will get used to it as time goes by and start to feel it’s normal. A tiny little change happens day by day and when you realize the change, you suddenly feel nostalgic. I think this cycle happens again and again in life. Every time I feel this is probably what it’s like to be a grown-up, I also feel a bit melancholy or, again, nostalgic. I know it is hard for us to stop growing up and changing, and I am actually looking forward to experiencing some changes in life. When I wrote this article, I realized that feeling sad to be grown-up is a part of becoming an adult. For that reason, I want to cherish every second of my life.

Images by Rio

English Edited by Karin

Edited by Hikari Sawada and Hikari

bottom of page