>Of Birthday Bashing and Growing Up

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It’s an universally acknowledged fact that, after you turn 21, your increasing age is inversely proportional to the excitement with which you look forward to your birthday.

Imagine you are five. You look forward to turning six. Because it means all the adults will make a big deal out of it and get you presents and cake and let you do whatever you want, for the whole effing day!! Doing whatever you want kind of loses its charm when you are grown up and an adult and know that you can do whatever you want if you wanted to or weren’t that lazy.

Imagine you are twelve. You look forward to turning thirteen. Because that means you become a teenager and have license to throw tantrums, behave badly and blame it on hormones, puberty and what-not. You will also be pleased to find yourself going higher in the school hierarchy, thinking too much about your appearance and on the brink of a long journey looking for the perfect and effective acne removal cream.

There you are, in your teens.You got voting rights when you turned eighteen, but who really gets excited about getting voting rights?? The elections didn’t even happen that year, not the big ones anyway. You sailed through your teens doing everything you wanted to and didn’t want to but did anyway because your parents didn’t want you to, doing everything others seemed to be doing or avoided doing anything that any one else did because, yes, peer pressure works that way, finally landing on twenty, swearing to yourself to get over the teenage phase and become a real adult. But who counts twenty as a non-teen age group? Hell, you’re still young, still in college, still under 21 and it is the only one year you’ve got to drink while not being of legal age. Nothing kicks a high like that, does it?

Now imagine you are twenty. And you are turning twenty-one. What are the perks? You get to drink legally. And surely, the day you turn twenty-one, you go get drunk and find it no different from all the other times before. So that perk stays for a day and then wears off. Then what? You are twenty-one, probably graduate or about to graduate. You now have to leave the comfort of college and go get yourself a job. In this universe, low attendance doesn’t mean a talk with the Principal, here it’s seeing your peanuts of a salary get reduced to shriveled skins of nuts. And failing in a test more often than not leads to a loss of means to livelihood and other comforts it brings, not to mention the fact that these ruddy tests happen too frequently and barely ever run on schedule.

Now imagine you are twenty-one and are turning twenty two. Or already have turned twenty two ten minutes back. What do you look forward to? To a day of calls, messages and wall posts wishing you fun, happiness and other nice things? To a day of more niceties and maybe an increased consumption of alcoholic beverages than what a normal day brings? To another year of sameness and minute differences? To another year of new resolutions that will be forgotten and discarded in a week? To catch up with other grown-up friends and whine together about growing older and leading a lackluster life? To put the sad moment of realization into words that will be the contents of a long whiny tirade against growing up? (check)

You know why kids look forward to their birthdays and adults dread theirs? It’s not age. Well, not age alone anyway. It’s school, college, a learning institution. With every passing year, you are glad to get the old year done with and begin a new one. Because you look forward to the next year to put you in a higher grade, to learn new stuff, to leave an old class behind, to forget old diagrams and definitions. With every coming year, you know you’ll get a certificate, a parchment, a denouement in the written word that you have sailed through past year’s storm of follies and failures and reached the shore of new undiscovered land, where there are yet unexplored territories and ample opportunities to make new mistakes.

It’s not that we stop learning after getting out of schools. It’s just that we stop getting as many frequent assurances and reassurances. Kindergarten teachers have time for their subjects, not normal adults leading busy lives. Your boss won’t have the time to appreciate the efforts you took to color-code your complicated excel-sheet so that it’s easy to understand. That’s your job, you are not going to get a star on your dossier for every task you tick off your to-do list. Your friends won’t have time to listen to you bitch about everyday activities the way they did when you pretended to be studying in the library. What used to capture attention before, will no longer dazzle your old, mature grown up audience. We’re not kids anymore. We have lists to complete and files to organize. Who cares if you can’t grow up and stop looking for a good word for every good thing you do, who has the time to care to what’s happening to you when their own lives is, as the term nowadays goes- FUBAR?

So there you are, twenty-two and still not much of an anybody. In some era, people used to start their lives at this age. Nowadays, people your age are getting into rehab for the fourth time or are being compared to legends. People much younger are becoming superstars by having a voice that only puts their gender in doubt, and here you are, sure of your gender, unsure of what you are doing with your life. The only thing you’ve got to celebrate is that your generation can now blame the phenomenon of quarter-life crisis when the going gets tough. Well, that’s good for reassurances.

Growing up can be such a pain. How can one not like Peter Pan?



PS: I don’t know if it’s a good idea to be listening to this one now- http://listen.grooveshark.com/#/s/1973+Album+Version+/DjkDf

Image: My 23rd Birthday by nyu   (It’s not my 23rd, but, same/similar sentiments)

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