Growing Pains

Edited by Aruna Nidamarthy

[artwork by Delphine Cauly]

I think one of the scariest parts of growing up is this particular state you have. It’s best described as a realization. It’s this state where you realize that you don’t really have a home. The house where you’ve been staying all these years that you once called home, isn’t it anymore. It’s this realization that this house, this comfort, this environment, it’s all just temporary. And it was actually never your home, you were just too young and naïve to acknowledge this.

It’s a very unsettling feeling to have. I get this feeling when I go home now for the holidays. I’m never truly comfortable the way I was before because now I know, I’ll have to leave.

Many times, I find myself missing the infinite comfort I used to derive from my house. It was a lie, but it was a comforting lie. And sometimes, that’s better than the truth.

Another scary element about growing up is that people expect you to have your personality figured out. Are you shy? Loud? Enthusiastic or funny? Of course, there are elements of many traits incorporated into everyone but there is this overall personality that they add up to. As an adult, you have a definite personality. This personality is built up from your many years of existence. It’s scary to think that I don’t believe I am there yet. I am a different person depending on my environment, my company and my level of confidence. I find myself contradicting many of my own beliefs, values or ways of behaviour. How can I be thought of as a definite person, having a definite set of ways to live life? It’s impossible.

And another thing. This one really gets to me. As a child, you were allowed to dream. You were allowed to seem silly and unrealistic. The unavoidable question of “what do you want to be when you grow up” could be answered in any way. A dancer, a poet or a pilot. It changes quite often but is still accepted. What is that age when you’re no longer able to get away with these answers? That age when society doesn’t find these answers cute anymore. These answers are now unrealistic and unsafe. The amused faces they once made when you answered tennis player at the age five have now turned into expressions of concern just because you’re sixteen. Or fifteen? For me this age was twelve. I was told to stop being a child and think about my life in a mature way.

It cracked me up.

But in the end, all I can hope for is that this is all worth it. All the missing, confusion and loneliness now means a better, more content future. I have to look at the “bigger picture.” Whatever that means. Everybody grows up. Everybody goes through what I am going through. Everybody experiences life. But is it wrong to think that I’m not everybody? It sure as hell feels that way.