When do we actually grow up?
I’m sitting in my apartment balcony, with this laptop and a drink, smooth jazz playing in the background, and I can’t help but wonder - when did I start to adult?
What is that one defining moment which officially makes us adults? Is it when you get your drivers licence? Is it when you can legally vote? Is it when you get your own apartment?
I can’t remember when I ‘grew up’? I can’t remember when I instinctively stopped shouting “Ma, where is my book?” expecting an “on your table” in return. I can’t remember needing the driver to drop me to dance class and pick me up. That’s just life isn’t it? Time passes and we grow. We become responsible for our actions and also accountable for the consequences of those actions.
For me, I think I grow up a little everyday, yet I can trace back to a few major milestones in history that made me feel like I was an ‘adult’.
When I was about 9, I opened my first business. It was a gift wrapping shop set up near the dining table in our house. I remember my mother had gotten a ’30 beautiful gift wrapping ideas’ book and 9 year old Jazz was fascinated. Fascinated with the possibilities. And so, after much prototyping and probably wasting a lot of glitter paper, I opening my first proprietorship. It had a bill book and everything. It lasted for 4 days, had a total of 4 customers, including my mother, my father, my grandmother and my house help and I made a total of 40 rupees. But some part of me felt proud of accomplishing something on my own, with my own idea and hard work. I became a little more grown up that day.
When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes - and I think I had to grow up quite a lot, in a short span of time. It was no longer my mother and father’s responsibility to keep me, well, alive - It suddenly was in my hands! My life, was quite literally in my hands and that was some realisation! Of course I had moments of giving up and breaking down and getting back up - but what I found, was that somewhere along the process, I was enjoying the fact that I had to take decisions. Decisions that could potentially screw up my blood sugars, but still decisions that were MINE to make. Having ownership of my actions and inactions, made me more sound minded and strong. Taking care of myself, and with that sensitivity and maturity, also taking care of my family’s concern for me, made me grow up!
When I was 18, I got my learners permit the day after my birthday! I was so excited to officially be called an adult and have some validation of the same, even if that meant someone accompanying me whenever I was behind the wheel. Oh to be an ‘adult’. And then, later that year, my mother got a brain aneurism. At home, was just me and Ma. My brother was in college halfway across the world and my father was out of town for work. My mothers scream still sometimes echoes in my ears. I was responsible. I rushed her to the hospital. I signed consent papers for her surgery. And in those sleepless nights - I didn’t want to be an adult. I called up my father and cried and told him to come back. Because no matter how officially adult I was, in that moment, I was just a little child, scared to death of what could happen.
Its very interesting - this growing up. Everyone thinks you make mistakes only when you’re young - but I don’t think we make any fewer when we are adults.. At times, all you wish is to have the freedom and the space to be who you are. And then, when life throws its greatest hits at you, all you want is to run into your mothers arms and be safe. Being an adult, is all of it. Its the fear and the excitement, the laughter and the tears, the successes and the failures… Its looking at life in the eye and saying, bring it on! So I have come to the understanding, that adulting is not only defined by a piece of paper. Adulting is defined by being more aware about what makes us who we are. It’s about having the sensitivity to struggle, and the maturity to rise. It’s about accepting that sometimes, we need help and that it’s not a bad thing to reach out, and ask for it. It's about realising that there will always be a child deep within.
So as I sit, 25 years old, in my own apartment, writing this blog, there is still that gift wrap shop owner inside, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.