Editor’s Note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for October, 2021 is Navigating Complex Emotions. The pandemic has interrupted our emotions in many ways, and added to the complexities of our mental well being. FII invites submissions on coping with these complicated feelings, throughout this month. If you’d like to contribute, kindly email your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
As a child, perhaps my biggest fantasy was to be a ‘grown up‘. I made do with my mother’s shawls for sarees and a sister to ‘take care of‘, but I knew this wasn’t perhaps the real deal, and being grown up meant a lot more decisive power and authority. Prepping myself thus, I didn’t think growing up for real might be the greatest disillusion my six year old self would experience.
Choosing to study at a university far from home was meant to be my launchpad to adulting, and it did look so for the first few months. Decisions, however small and insignificant, gave me a small sense of exhilaration. Last minute plans to explore the city, not needing to inform home about every little thing or wait for their green signal got me thinking that I had finally figured out successful adulting and fallen into the rhythm of routine.
I believed I would never tire of finding excitement in small things to pump up the day. Even more comforting was the reassurance that I was only a teenager and it was acceptable to make mistakes and grow, that I did have a secure, safety net of support in my parents to fall back on.
Then came the pandemic. Indecision and uncertainty started becoming routine. Like everybody else, I too held onto the hope that this would get better. I got used to and eventually recognised cycles of drive and despair that took over. That was a stark change from my former self, who wasn’t cowed down by doubts of “what if I don’t make it?“
The twenty year old me could see the deadline of the degree fast approaching and the new, impending phase of opportunities didn’t so much excite her as it scared her.
Spending my late teens with my parents, the cocoon of safety it provided was too comfortable to break out of. I could still sit back and let them take care of everything for me. Every decision I had to make left me in doubt. I was worried if I would only mess everything up further. The six year old in me screamed at me to take another shot at adulting.
I returned to the ‘city of my dreams‘. Moving out was another tussle between the six year old and the easily cowed, but saner 20 year old. Deciding on a career path that does not confirm to the popular default or something as mundane as choosing a place of stay left me wondering why I couldn’t just shut up, because ‘what if they did know better?‘ But, the six year old is stubborn, and she didn’t give in, so my parents had to.
Turns out, the thrills of decision making aren’t long lived. The six year old didn’t know how to cope when her wishes all came true and they still didn’t make her happy. My choice of a place to stay turned out to be a let down. I wasn’t remotely ready for the major wave of homesickness that hit me in the first few days of being back.
A strange sense of suffocation was the presiding feeling in the initial days of being back in the city. Getting out and exploring had been my ostensible reasons to move out of home, and doing just that gave me a breathing space. It helped me believe it would all come through, if I forced a bit of normalcy into everyday life.
I started journaling to keep track of my days and emotions. My days invariably went back to recognisable routines of happiness, sadness and occasional drive. Slowly, I learned to adjust, that’s what adults do. I learned to enjoy the moments when the decisions I took responsibility for, turned out well.
Accepting that mistakes are integral and that I would still make them, be it at nineteen or ninety is tough. Healing from the ideal of adulthood I built for myself is tougher. Having to wake up my six year old self to the imperfections, monotony and tribulations of adulting takes time.
Disillusioning her so that the present me can breathe a little, does indeed take effort. The pandemic made me accept that routines are uncertain. We are destined to find our own, steadying rhythm. That is how most adults stay afloat.
Devika is an undergraduate student trying her best to figure out life and her degree. She is heavily invested in stories (in prose, songs or movies) and interested in figuring out the politics of the world. Her aspiring amateur blogging attempts can be traced on thezonedoutzone.blogspot.com. You may also find her on Instagram
Featured Image: Ritika Banerjee for Feminism In India