Diagnosis: Maturity – By Natalia Oparka-Kharma

It’s mid February here, in Poland and as far as the weather is concerned, it feels like we are living in a forgotten land of Frost and Icicle, two evil brothers who took over the kingdom after their father The Mighty Flurry was buried under a meter of snow. Don’t get me wrong, I loved winter as a kid: snowmen, snow angels, winter holidays (AKA “no teachers telling us what to do”)… and here I am – cursing the weather forecast man and curling up under the blanket with a sad realization: I don’t find it funny anymore.

The constant cold, the bus schedule going upside down, the slippery pavements and broken hips… Holy cow, I’m an adult! How did this happen and is it curable? Some think that being a grown-up means supporting yourself; Getting a job and buying your own shampoo. “You are not a grown-up if you don’t pay for your own Blackberry” said one of the characters in “Girls”, an HBO show picturing the ups and downs of young women living in NYC . As for me, I am not sure if getting my first paycheck at the age of 18 changed me. I knew very little about life and the world (hell, am I any wiser now?!), but it definitely altered my way of handling money. I no longer waited for food to just magically appear in the fridge and I always thought twice before treating myself to a double cappuccino at Starbucks.

My parents expected me to join the Adulthoodville when I entered university. I definitely learned how to survive on Red Bulls and cereal, and got really good at pretending to be fresh and rested, when all I was, was absolutely exhausted. It made me more resilient, but also more down to earth. Some of my dreams simply faded away, like moving to Tibet and mastering the various techniques of milking cows. I focused on meeting deadlines and brown-nosing instead. Not a very mature thing to do.

I thought I would become a total 100% grown-up when I got married. I was only 21 at the time and very much in love. We decided to make it official and I felt good about it. People started looking at me differently; many of them even claimed it was such an “adult” thing to do. I was glad… relieved! Finally, I got to my destination. No sooner have I realized that there is more to being married than just wearing a ring on my finger than it dawned on me that it might have been the most immature thing I have ever done in my entire life.

Yet here I am on Friday morning pretty sure I have learnt something from every single experience listed above. Growing up is a gradual, often painful, process; Doesn’t happen overnight and we can’t really put a finger on the exact moment of our transformation. All we can do is hope that it won’t strip us out of childlike joy and will to explore life. So every now and then, try to appreciate the frost on your window and wave back to snowmen in your neighbour’s backyard. Hell, I might even stop yelling at the forecast guy and just go for a walk – I hope my hips can take the pressure!!


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