1st November. With a Halloween hangover and less than two months to go until Christmas I am as excitable as a child; except I still have to go to work, clean my flat and pay my bills. University is the footstep of adult life, or so we’re routinely reminded. There are ghoulish tales of “the real world” given to undergraduates preparing to come out of the “bubble”. Growing up happens all too quickly, but so does growing outwards (definitely too much chocolate last week). Who you are and how you behave are two very separate things which begin to divide further as we enter the adult world.
Do we ever really grow up, or are we all just how we started? Are we six year olds, who have learnt to walk, talk and comply in adult bodies? Are we dressed in business suits, suppressing hormones and tantrums on the daily commute? Do we leave childhood behind? Do we ever truly forget that before mortgages, weekly shopping lists and public codes of courtesy we were toddling about in sandpits? Crying because we fell over, and then proceeding to quickly forget this during a round of “Kiss-chase”…
Do we ever truly forget that we were once vulnerable to love? That there was a time before anything more than kissing was scary? That at one point, genitals were merely icky (they sometimes still can be-no judgment).
I think not. We retain our personality but change our behaviors. It seems adults wear suits of armour. Proper adults; you can’t shake them. They stick fingers up at you in traffic jams that once only went up their nose at playtime. They sometimes forget the manners they had to use to obtain milk and cookies, and they don’t confide in people in the way they did aged thirteen.
What happens if you don’t join them?
When you’re the grown up, who tells you that everything will be alright in the end? Toys break like relationships and you don’t get friendship bracelets anymore. There’s no more staff on the playground, it’s up to you when you eat your packed lunch and play hopscotch.
When someone kicks your sandcastle, it’s now you who decides whether to continue to build it, start a new one or smash it completely. Empowering? There’s a little ambiguity here, as you ponder over why so-and-so kicked it in the first place. How quickly will you forget it happened? Adults forget to take a break in-between their sandcastle walls falling down and dragging themselves back to the sandpit to continue. When it happens to children they have a good cry, a round of hugs and a pack of sweets before they go back to it. Time is money in the busy adult world, but don’t lose yourself or you’ll end up spending more time finding yourself.
On Halloween, aged 7 I was dressed as a black cat, trick or treating and collecting sweets. At 22, I found myself once again, dressed as a black cat on Halloween. This time doing vodka shots and saying embarrassing things in “public”. Well, it’s important not to become too adult, although I like to hope one day I’ll avoid telling the bouncer/taxi driver/pizza man my life story. Probably not.