Call Me:

When I was a child, my mother insisted on buying clothes that were too big for me. I was tiny to begin with, and this was highlighted even further by my sleeves falling over my hands while I was busy tripping over my own jeans. Everything on the list of things that were bigger than me seemed intimidating and naturally there were quite a few that fit the bill. Cars, horses, trees, cupboards, shops, large dogs, small dogs, people, you name it; I was scared of them all.

When it came to people, I was afraid of the big and burly shopkeepers as much as my teachers in the classroom.  All of them seemed to have something below the surface, an inner strength that I did not possess, added to the obvious advantage given their size. They always seemed to know what they were doing and even when they seemed wrong, they knew themselves to be right. I was powerless against them all and I wanted to grow up as fast as possible to fix this imbalance.

Most of us, when we are children, can’t wait to grow up. There are various reasons for this. We want to be like a particular adult that we idolize, a fictional character a singer, an action hero. Others feel like they are already in a good place, but are limited by certain disadvantages that are inhibiting exceedingly important aspects of life such as, of course, the enforcement of an early bedtime. In the first decade of life, play time is everything and anyone attempting to disrupt that is desecrating the natural order.

Adulthood is an end to this injustice. When I was a child. I wanted to grow up so that my older sister would stop treating me as her personal punching bag and I would not have to suffer my hair being ruffled every time a grown up thought I was cute. Even 16 year olds felt like another species all together, were capable of something and knew things about the world that I had scarcely imagined in my fantastical, but ultimately childish mind. Dreaming dreams of growing up and having the freedom to do all sorts of things, such as sleeping late, eating all the candy I wanted and practicing my pyromania to my heart’s content was an obsession.

My clothes fit me now, although I’m still short compared to my peers. I sleep late and this is nothing but a nuisance for me. Candy is not as appealing, nor is setting things on fire. The funny thing is, being grown up is not what I expected it to be at all. An innate sense of understanding was supposed to be brought about by adulthood. I had expected to be a calm and self-assured man by now, at ease with my knowledge of the world and how to react to social settings. Instead, I am often lost trying to interpret the world and its humans. The things that I abhorred as a child (menial tasks) haven’t got any easier, and I have not been able to become any of the things I thought I would be at this age. Those dreams were those of a child; a small dreamer with a skewed perspective of the world. Still, they seemed so real at the time. That reality must count for something, at least for as long as it existed.

The list of things I fear has slowly thinned down to a very manageable level. But at the same time, new ones have joined the ones that remain, such as thinking constantly about my career prospects and wondering where I’ll be in the next ten years. These fears, added to the constant fear of failing is compounded by the expectations of everyone around me; from the loving mother who thinks that her son can do no wrong, to the numerous aunts and uncles that know nothing about your life, but are still an inextricable part of it somehow. I often wonder when this strange fundamental change took place within me. When did I begin this inhibiting business of acceptance? When did I forsake all those old convictions, those dreams of adulthood and begin accepting life as the confused mental turmoil that it’s turned out to be.

The Nation’s Call Me column is an anonymous piece of writing, where writers can  relate deeply personal stories.

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