Monday, April 29, 2013

Age and Maturity

When I was growing up, I know in my kindergarten-early primary school I was kind of sensitive and a cry baby, but I was pretty much a happy kid. Darjah Dua I think, the cikgu said I don't smile anymore and I'm serious. Throughout sekolah menengah pun the teachers ask if I ever stop thinking.

I kind of thought, growing up, that I was ahead of my peers, despite having an attitude problem, maybe because I was always thinking of a lot of things, and reading things my peers don't read.

But at this point in time, I'm looking back and I'm reassessing, was all that thinking really productive thinking, and am I exercising the same thought processes that I did then as compared to where I am now.

I always thought that my maturity level was appropriate for my age, but sometimes, I think that I've assessed myself wrong, because things happen, and it takes me by surprise, and it knocks home the fact that I am not as mature as I thought I was.

Then comes the question of how do I be more mature, after all, it's already time, my time as a young adult (good God, I don't know why it feels scary and I feel so unprepared for this. Dammit, I'm in denial), it's finally here. It's no longer in the distant future of "someday I will be", I already am, and I am still far from that level of maturity that is expected of me.

Sometimes I feel that I am now a different person than I was when I left KLIA for Canada, at other times, I feel like everybody else has changed, fitting perfectly into their new mold of maturity, while I have not changed since, and I'm still awkwardly growing up like having a delayed puberty into teen hood.

At the same time, it also kind of, shattered all those ideals of "Adulthood" that I had when I was teen, and I am back at square one asking myself, what is adulthood, what is maturity ? Questioning my own conception of adulthood and how the society conceptualizes adulthood. Is it just about paying your own bills ? Knowing what you need to do ?

I mean, you kinda know adulthood means there's a lot of Responsibility (capital R).

Heck, when I looked back at all my blog posts, yes, I've had this blog since I was 12, it's been with me from childhood, to pre-teens, to teens, and now in the next phase of my life, and I look back at my writings, I can't really  tell if I have progressed in terms of maturity.

Knowing how to fend for yourself is not easy, and I'm still scared about not knowing how to drive properly and not knowing how to "work" yet. Like, it makes you feel disadvantaged that you can't move around freely to do your own errands, but I am terrified of driving.

However, I think, the biggest thing that I'm struggling with is social anxiety. Like, how one deals with conflict is a reflection of maturity. For example, when you were a little kid, and if you didn't get your way, you throw a tantrum, of course in Adult World, (God, "adult", that word has so much weight now) things don't work like that. When I was in school, and the teachers warn you that the real world isn't so kind and nobody gives a shit about you, they're not lying. I shouldn't be surprised, I should've known better, but life still does catch me by surprise, and I need to quickly recover from the shock and take appropriate actions. What is appropriate action is also an important question.

All of a sudden, I'm thrust into situations where I have to read human behavior, what is socially acceptable and what is not. Well, growing up, I've always been that awkward weirdo person who doesn't really know how to make friends, so I find this a daunting challenge.

"Acting professional" is, I suppose, what's expected of you as an adult, but does "acting professional" require you to sugar coat everything you say just to "jaga hati", or to swallow your pride just to keep peace ?

I still have a lot to learn, apparently, and here I am again, in a spot where ideals, and values clash, and learning to give and take. I suppose, I have to start taking myself seriously and the role I play in being part of a community.

Sometimes, it makes me miss the good old times, but then I'd just be in denial, and that's not really constructive behavior as I can only muse and reflect but not return to the past. Despite going on through life after high school, I find more like-minded people who I can function better with, as compared to the circle of people I've had in the past, at times, I do find myself falling back onto my old friends, with hopes that what you had in the past was still recognizable now and you can still cling on to that part of your memory which you thought would be eternally unchanging and secure. Yet, you also realize that they've moved on to new phases in their lives. Not that I blame anyone or plan to whine and complain, I guess I just needed to write to help me cope with the constantly raging feelings of uncertainty in facing the next phase of my life.

Being in university, doing nothing but studying, gave me a false illusion that I'm still in school, I'm still doing what I've been doing all this while, nothing has changed, I am still that 16-year-old girl in that school uniform happily sitting in class, listening to different lectures, and dutifully studying for her exams. Only after finishing second year, did I realize, I may be doing about the same thing I did before, but my age isn't 16 anymore, I am not that naive, idealistic, angsty, aspiring fresh-faced youth anymore, and letting that truth sink in is one of the hardest thing for me to do at this point.

So, after writing this out, I guess my next step, is to pick up the pieces, and try my best to build myself so that I can at least become a functional adult in the real world.

You know, sometimes, I see some adults still acting pretty "immature", and I make a mental note to myself not to do the same, and at the same time, I have to force myself from discrediting other "adult" attributes of the person just because one of their actions is immature. It really is easy to find yourself finding reasons, even the silliest ones, to discredit another person's arguments just because you want to win over him. I hate that, and I try my best not to do the same, because sometimes, in the heat of the argument, people can kind of tell, who's the adult and who's not, and it's not by the age.

The more I learn, both, intellectually and socially, I feel that putting labels on yourself become such a burden because of the expectations that come with those labels. "I'm an engineer". "I'm a feminist". "I'm muslim". "I'm an adult". "I am fighting for the cause of religion". "I am an anarchist".

As I go on, and I dig deeper about what those labels entail, it sometimes put me to shame, because I realize that when I had first put those labels, and shouted those slogans, I didn't know better, I didn't know the whole story. That's why, nowadays I feel reluctant to "take up any mantel" for fear that I can't do it justice for my lack of knowledge. Yes, taking up the "adult" mantel is also pretty scary, to put it in plain words.

Yeah, so this pretty much is what's been bothering me for quite a while. Hopefully, constructive action is what comes next after this. Signing out.

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