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Turn It Up.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Meeting my Demon Slayer

These days I find myself living under a crushingly acute sense of anticipation. I say anticipation, because I cannot specify this as foreboding, excitement, eagerness, or any other specific emotion that defines my subconscious brooding about the future. With the Lok Sabha elections coming up, I have been painfully reminded that, next time it happens, I'll be voting. I have months, literally months, left before I become and adult, and hence responsible for the workings of my own life. I know that nothing will change overnight when I turn 18, but I also wonder what it will be like, being accountable for everything I say and do, as a complete individual, as an independent citizen. I wonder if I have somehow been leading an easy life because I get away with things on account of being a child, and if suddenly every person around me will want an explanation for everything I do. I wonder if I'll be expected to be kinder to children, nicer to the elderly, more discerning, more mature...
...but mostly, I wonder about identity. An integral part of being an adult, and being in college which is also not that far away, is officially having an independent place in the world, complete with defining choices and opinions: choices like subject of study, political leanings, food, clothes. Not that I never make choices now, but they are bound to get more specific, more involving, more important; and in case of things like political and social opinions, I shall be required, by my position as an independent citizen, to have an opinion. Neutrality will no longer be an escape: I'll be required to have a stand and explain it, even if, sometimes, that stand really is neutrality. I have already made irrevocable decisions but, with the passage of time, my decisions will get tougher and their impact more lasting. I'll have to build an image and stick to it. Those days are over when I could, if I wished, change my reputation and how people see me by changing my clothes, my TV schedule and my accent. I have to decide who I am, once and for all: and though I haven't changed that in the recent past, the idea of permanency is scary. Very scary, especially since I'm supposed to always walk the walk once I become and adult. There are a whole lot of irresponsible adults, but I cannot afford to be since I've been a good kid and now I have to be a good adult.
All the things I've always complained about: in society, in my family, in my friend circle -- there will no longer be an excuse to just complain. I'll have to act on it, or else shut up. For my country, I'll have to make an informed choice and vote, because as MTV says, if you don't vote, you can't complain. I'll have to listen to what our leaders say, because soon, when they yell 'bhaiyon aur behnon' from the loudspeakers, they will be speaking, in part, to me. ME. A full-grown citizen of India, morally bound not to cover her ears and go back to her book. And I'll have to vote, nay, nod to MTV again, I'll have to ROCK the Vote. In society, I'll have to speak to other adults like a fellow adult -- reserved, calculating, polite, firm, tactful. Starting this 21 October, I'll have to translate all my ideals into practice, take the power that adulthood will give me and the responsibility that comes with it.
One of my uncles once gave me a book of childish demon stories, and he wrote on the gifting page that one must learn how to recognize the demons around oneself. He also wrote that if I didn't slay these demons, who else would? At that early age, I probably gave off vibes of the busybody that I am. Teachers and friends and family saw it, and they expect me to be brave, courageous, a true contributor to society... their words, not mine -- and I've received those expectations with gratitude and grace and an elevated sense of self-belief. But the only demon-slaying I've done is on Runescape, and I have no idea how to carry that blade: that figurative, imaginary, but all-powerful blade that, if wielded carelessly, can turn on its bearer.
Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't have it otherwise. I'm used to responsibility, and I dare say I wear it well: but this will be the real deal, the official growing up -- as I write this I've realized that this whole thing stings so much because I'm different, I'm unique, and I've always been very vocal about it. That has always been difficult, but as an adult, it will be hell. This hurts because I know, without a shred of doubt, that just like I am now, I will be alone in all of this. Commitments are tough, and I'll be committing whole-heartedly to myself; and while that's thrilling, empowering even, that's one commitment you know you can't get out of -- there's no dropping out, no resignation, no break-up or divorce. This person I'll become, I'm stuck with her, and despite knowing myself all these years, I don't know her well enough.
Not even close.


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