This is a short article I wrote many years ago when I first moved to the UK. It related to my experience of uprooting my life to another country, the article was published in a local newspaper in India and was aimed at the next generation of students in my old high school. I Hope you enjoy it.
Having recently turned twenty one, I had to pause and come to grips with the dawning, but very real, realization that I am now what one would term a “grown up” as one of my more youthful friends put it, I am now become “the enemy.”
And here’s one of the sad facts of getting older: When you left high school you promised everyone you would keep in touch and be best friends forever, emails and instant messaging boards like Facebook and Skype would make it easier to keep friendships going forever, but even so after a while it gets harder and harder to bridge the gaps between time and distance. Best friends who you would talk to everyday, you then converse with once a week, then once a month, and after a while you realize that you’re drifting apart more and more. But the problem is that people, even best friends, have a habit of changing over time, and once you’re out of the loop and out of their everyday lives it gets harder and harder to be able to relate to them anymore.
The thing about growing older is that your responsibilities change, and your perspective of things, and how you look at situations evolve. When I was a little kid I used to look up at grownups with a sense of envy, for these all seemed to be people who had the world figured out. They never seemed daunted, and always knew what to do. Whenever I was lost, frightened, or had been naughty, it was always a grown up who showed me the way, reassured me, or scolded me depending on what the situation demanded. And this was because they were grownups, they had obviously gone through some form of rite of passage, or been issued some form of induction that designated them, at least in my young eyes, as responsible adults. But this poses a real conundrum to me now, as now I am now an adult too, and have been issued no instructions on how to proceed, no one has let me look at the instructions manual, or inducted me in any rites of passage.
But as you mature and acquire more responsibilities and get jobs and engage in more activities, you find that you have less and less time left to concentrate on bridging the gaps between distance and space with your old friends. There’s no blame, or reproach in that. It’s just a fact of life, we will never be as young and have as much free time again as we did in Transition, or any old high school we attended, and that’s just something one needs to accept. Life picks you up, turns you around and changes you. I think they call it growing up and becoming responsible. And yeah it gets a bit tedious and at times its even unpleasant, but what can you do? Time slips by, people you talked to everyday you have less and less time for, and it’s not that you care less than before. It’s just that now there are bills to pay, studies to do, CV’s to bolster, and whatnot. Less and less do you have the time for idle chit chat, casual banter, enthusiastically pursuing your hobbies, or even finding great joy in watching football. I think they call this adult life, I hear it’s pretty dull and convoluted and sleepless until you reach retirement, at which point you spend most of your time catching up on sleep.
We are still young, just not as young as we used to be, still I wish I’d spent more of the swaths of free time I used to have on the important things in life, like football, chatting about random mundane stuff with friends, and doing silly things I could blame on being young and naive. Still; we’ll keep in touch and have the occasional catch-up moments of course, but I do fear none of us have the time or the energy to stay in contact on a consistent basis.
So here’s a message to the Youth of today; enjoy it while it lasts. And even though they say that advice, like youth, is often wasted on the young, and I think the total abandon of worry about consequences or responsibilities is what defines childhood; enjoy it. Because one day you’ll think back, and realize in a way you cannot possibly understand now how much freedom you had in front of you, make the most of it.