Do I dare disturb the universe?

Thisanjali Gangoda

When my friends and I get together and discuss our academic careers, future aspirations and where we’ll be going next, I say, “When I grow up.” and tell them what I think it’ll be like.

They laugh and tease me, saying, “Haven’t you grown up already?” Shaking their heads as if it is obviously known what it means to be grown up, they ask me why I always say that phrase, a phrase that is apparently reserved to children of and below the age of eight.

I say, what does it mean to be grown up? And when did we as a society acquire the notion that there is a pinnacle in our lives where everything will make sense, where our lives will settle and we’ll know all that there is to know? When I use the phrase, “when I grow up.” it’s always with a bit of naivety and sarcasm that I do so. I feel that at this point in my life I’ve attained a certain level of understanding of what my responsibilities are and how I should manage my time. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I always carry it out accordingly.

There is such a strange dichotomy of expectations of young adults my age, as we must work, play and learn to plan out the rest of our lives all in one grand swoop known as college. In middle school, we were told if you didn’t take the right classes, join the right student groups or make the right friends, your high school career would be worthless.

In high school, we were told that in college everything would be to such a level of seriousness that you would have to decide who you are and what you are going to be right then and there. If none of the above were followed, you would indeed become a failure. I have always been a fairly level-headed, mindful person, and since middle school I have been fearful of such failure, of not knowing what it means to be grown up.

It has taken me years to understand what a farce all that was, that the people I once revered as adults were just as scared of failure as I was. We are all in a constant state of growth and learning, so why are we pushed to be scared? If only my teachers and counselors calmly told me the truth, that every day is another day to work on becoming a better person. It isn’t something that should be taken lightly, as it’s easy to make excuses for certain unnecessary actions you might take, but it also doesn’t mean the mistakes you’ve made in the past will deter you from your future goals.

The people who I admire the most are people who love what they do and feel no need to describe themselves in linear relation to their job title. Why should people be limited to one description of what their existence means?

It’s funny to think of all the things I thought I would “be” when I would indefinitely be “grown up.” I thought I’d be a swim teacher, then a piano teacher, a doctor, a genetic therapist (what?), a botanist, a giant squid expert and now? I have learned to just be me and to take that one day at a time. I revel in my passions, in my loved ones and in how I lucky I am to begin every day anew. It has taken me a lifetime to get here, and the rest of my life? Well, who knows.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]