Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who is annoyed by the commercials for movies that are ‘ a true, coming of age story’ or a ‘moving coming of age tale’ of a girl growing up in an unpleasant atmosphere. Or a boy becoming a soldier not just by profession but by nature.. I sure hope it sounds at least familiar, because otherwise I have just been getting annoyed over imaginary iterations of something quite innocent, in concept, at least.
Also, quite poignant. I am sure that is what was originally meant when the phrase began to be used to describe a story of coming to terms with yourself and life. Now, it is just a phrase like ‘going with the flow’ that may mean anything, or nothing.
While being annoyed with the phrase I suddenly realized that I had had a few coming of age-s myself. After all, every age should have the feeling of realization or enlightenment that rightly means that you have actually lived that age and not just ‘gone with the flow’. Age not in years of course. So much enlightenment is not for human kind! Perhaps only for dolphins..
Like when you (or I, in this instance) was a teenager and hoped that I was pretty, while knowing somewhere deep down that in reality I was not. I had definitely wanted to be taller, that apparently is still a very important teenage longing in India ( that I have come across). I definitely am not tall. Thankfully at this memory of me coming of age, I remember being fine with it, as long as I could enjoy biology, have good friends and make my dad proud (there it is again), I was satisfied with what I looked like and how far the ants were from me. I never wore makeup till I was 28. Okay, I wore make up on two occasions before that. So it truly did not bother me to a level that I thought it would need proactive correction. I still don’t wear heeled pumps ( I do like to buy them because they look great on shelves). They are not worth the trouble of wearing though!
At 28 I got married and prior to the wedding in the salon, as the make-up artist was working on me, I realized that make up is a form of art. Now I like experimenting and I also like the process allows my usually overworked to the point of smoking brain, to get some respite.
I suppose coming of age and coming off that age and being ready for the next level is very important. Any one who did not make it, has a scary hope of continuing to be in stasis at whatever mental age they didn’t arrive at, to grow out of it. That should be familiar at least? How many people do we know who still seem to be stuck at whatever point of time they decided to stop thinking about life. I don’t blame them, there are so many things to think about ( the real reason I didn’t want to grow up) goals, money, and family and being productive, that whether you are ‘growing’ as a person or not, sometimes takes a back seat.
Many times it is the need to get people to like you or need you that the real you remains hidden in layers of perfectly woven, impressive and fake personalities. I suppose society needs this, after all if everyone showed their true selves at all times, it would be hard for community feelings to develop and endure. It is the decision that makes you stop at some point and draw the line that is ‘coming of age’.
Toddlers and kids up to about 7-8 yrs of age, have no option but to grow up. But after the early- late teens, there is an option to stop. Some of us do. There is an option to stop at any point after that. It sucks so much, so much of the time that as soon as no one inside me is looking, I have tended to postpone it for years myself. But the people inside me, they have not let up yet, so here I am writing.. ( they think that is the correct next level for me).
Believe me when I say this- I did not want to grow up even when I realized there was no option. Highlighted by the fact that of all my friends in our ‘convent’ school, I was the only one who didn’t want college and the associated freedom to come any time soon.
Most people I know who think ( and tell me repeatedly) that they are mature, are so far from it that I think they were mature for a moment at an age, a long time ago, and someone told them they were being very mature in their attitude and that line got stuck somewhere. They don’t realize they are no longer 10 and maturity means different things for different ages. I think it is just as well no one told me that. It could also mean that I have not come of age yet. I doubt it though. As soon as I decided to give up pursuing with every breath and waking moment of my life( like I did for almost a decade) , a profession that is not solving anyone’s problems, even if I don’t have other plans to fall back on to and remain ‘productive’, it was my most recent coming of age.. It is bittersweet as usual.
I have not given up science, it will be like giving up my hair, it will grow right back on! It just means that I am free from the pressure of getting publications, an award, a fellowship to show people I am a scientist. I no longer care about that. I only care about not doing things that are not only boring and tedious, they just seem to be following the ‘trend’ of the moment. Like obesity is now, and cancer was and continues to be to some extent. I am free to like science because it is wonderful and it should have a point and part in everyone’s life. Maybe I can sort out some conflicting reports while I am at this stage of clear, or at least somewhat unbiased thinking. Who knows..