We have all had a vague idea of growing up when this question was thrown at us as kids “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But only if growing up was as limited as the realm of this question. Now we know, it’s so much more than having a job, stability or status (not that I have a job or am hopeful of getting one anytime soon). As a kid when I saw young people hanging out alone, seniors coming to school driving their vehicles, someone having a personal cell phone and other such miniscule things fascinated me to grow up. But again, I had a very sheltered view of attaining a certain age in life and have the freedom which tempted me ever since I had a sense of it. When you are officially an adult, you might expect things to change, have that implicit feeling of being “grown up”, well at least I did. But the reality was different, the teenager in me who couldn’t wait to grow up was disappointed. Nothing much changed and it is far from even my basic idea of growing up.
Having crossed a certain age in life and still not being able to get the freedom we dreamt of as kids, defeats the whole purpose of growing up. You have your own understanding of things, you build your own principles which might clash with others around you, you have your definition of success, your way of dealing with relationships, basically trying to make your own space in this ever evolving world. You grow intellectually, which is the most important part of growing up and this growth is unfinished and will be challenged by yourself or the world in later years of your life but it is still very different from what the child in you imagined. Among the many problems of adulthood – identity clashes, assessing your career path, dealing with fickle social interactions (hair fall! you are lucky if you don’t have it) etc. and on the top of that being devoid of your space/basic freedom/privacy, especially if you live in India, adds to your initial discomfort of being on your own and it’s only going to expand and guess what, it was never a part of your growing up fantasy! Having understood these things on the onset of “young adulthood”, I fear growing up.
The day which marks adding another year to your life was always supposed to be celebrated. But as I actually grew up, I understood the futility of celebrating my arrival in this world, not that I completely hate it but the anxiety of growing up is more than usual around that time. We suffer from things we can’t even give a name to, want to delve into things which seem non-existent, crave for simplicity of emotions and most importantly, escape. We want to seek liberation only to be liberated from our never ending thoughts. The fact that growing up is eternal and nobody can ever be completely grown up validates my inhibition of reaching greater numbers of age. We might be conscious of the vagary of our desires and actions and how incompatible life can be from what our younger selves fantasized. But growing up is not a phase which will pass, you grow up each day, face new challenges and each day you are closer to your indefinite answer of what you want to become and what you can be. Who knows, my fear of growing up can be my biggest facilitator in this endless process and I can’t wait to tell my younger self that the fear was worth it but your fantasy wasn’t.
To the growing up days we are missing because of the pandemic, I wonder how different it would have been in a normal world, outside our comfort zones and how different will it be for us in the real world someday, having missed the initial stage of adulthood in it’s organic state. But nevertheless, sitting at your home, in front of your screens, you can’t resist growth, you can’t stop randomly thinking or planning days pf your lives which are unseen.
You can fear it, try to run away from it, but in the process you’ll have your mind blown, for all it’s worth, even if you want, you can never stop chasing growth.
© 2021 Shruti Singh