When I was eight, I had a concept about being an adult. In my over-active imagination, I thought the minute I turned into ‘an adult’ I would know all the answers to life, the universe and everything in-between, instantaneously, miraculously. I grew up, the answers didn’t come at 18, 21, 25, 30, 35 ... I stopped counting.
I asked my Ma (Now that I was an adult like her) how did she know the advice she was giving me when I was young was the right one? She grinned wickedly and said, ‘I just told you to do the things I never did.’
Were you absolutely sure that what you were suggesting was the best thing for me?’ She got defensive and mumbled something about having done all that she could for me. That’s when it hit me. My mum had no clue. She was figuring it out
It startled me a bit to think she had sent me along unchartered territory so confidently (Luckily, I didn’t listen much). I persisted, ‘Were you absolutely sure that what you were suggesting was the best thing for me?’ She got defensive and mumbled something about having done all that she could for me. That’s when it hit me. My mum had no clue. She was figuring it out.
It was almost as if I had stumbled on this gigantic secret that everybody kept and nobody spoke about. Not a single human being had a clue what was going on. We were all shooting into the dark with our aphorisms, wisdom and plans, hoping everything will turn into a happily-ever-after, at some point along the way.
Or maybe I am being unfair. Perhaps, there are adults who have figured it out, who have all the questions neatly answered and a power point presentation of a five-year plan, which promises to deliver every single desire on a salver. This column isn’t for them.
It is for those of us who have no clue what’s going on. We are the children who have camouflaged ourselves with adult toys (Spouse, house, car, visiting card) and we are hoping this disguise will work, fooling our children, mirroring how we were tricked once.
It is for those of us, whose 8-year-old questions still remain as fresh as ever. How does money work? Why aren’t there any dragons around? Why doesn’t she like me? How can that person lie? Why does he get the bigger piece of cake? Why aren’t they inviting me to the party? How much can I hog this swing? Why is mother angry? When will the sadness go?
It is for us, the ‘still figuring it out’ individuals who have learnt to hide the question marks. We are the ones pretending to be in charge and claiming to know exactly where our life is heading. Occasionally, when alone, we look back to see if we can catch anyone steering. Somebody must be, right?
‘Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Tuesday on newsable.com. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at https://twitter.com/unopenedbottle. The views expressed here are her own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 7:07 PM IST