At 22, I am unwilling to hang up my boots - the cheerful, multi-hued, adventurous boots of childhood. One might argue that childhood should be a thing of the past for me. I should have ideally let go when I crossed the teen years. I don’t know if I speak for everyone, but I, sure am, petrified of the big, bad adult world.
Rewind to the uncluttered times when I was 10. One person, to whom I could credit the title of being an ‘influencer’ in my life, was my cousin sister. It was the perfect generation gap, since she is nine years older. She epitomized the 90’s fashion and culture. I idolized her and she, in turn, gave me a lot of unsolicited, adult advice. I longed to be ‘Akka’, to wear the tight jeans she carried off with ease, to dance with reckless abandon to pop music, to possess the joie de vivre that comes with being a nineteen year old.
The significance of ‘19’ was soon lost. I can barely remember its arrival. I only mourned half-heartedly when other 19-year-olds celebrated the end of mine. Now, after 3 years, I crave it like an addict’s daily fix. I crave its anonymity. I crave its dynamism.
When you are 19, the fear of being out there and making a person out of yourself is not even your remotest priority. We do lay claim to it, fascinated by the mysterious allure of maturity and independence. Little do we know then, that growing up is, ironically, akin to groping quite blindly for the future that you have made huge plans for.
It suddenly hits you that life does not get under way, semester by semester. There are no final examinations that result in declarations of excellence. There is no teacher to run to for even idle chit-chat. There is no one to blame for the decisions you make. Heck, how many life-altering decisions did we even make then?
Now, everything I do today has a cascading effect on what I might do one year down the line. What I say to my boss, will decide how quickly the probation period is off me. I have to be ‘mature’ and not assume that colleagues can be friends. I must now tick days off, month by month, as my ‘experience’ is the key to survival.
Growing up was not meant to be so difficult, so lonely and so scary. One wrong step and I don’t even know what it might be construed as. How did this paranoia set in? Life was supposed to be one gigantic roller-coaster ride, albeit, one with turns that I controlled. I was so sure of everything. I had everything chalked out.
I realize now, with pained silence, I was nineteen. I hadn’t grown up.