Adulthood, take it easy on me

Salvi Shahlaie photographed by Aroob Sajjad

I hated being a kid. The rules, the restrictions, the age limits, the endless homework, I detested all of it. Yet, I never seemed to appreciate one vital component of it all: the simplicity.

Not to give you a “boohoo me” story but I didn’t have the most amazing childhood. My parents were divorced before I could walk and I grew up quite alone, as I am an only child. I was bullied, had to move around a lot, and am still dealing with unresolved emotional abuse (courtesy of my parents). Like everyone else, I had my fair share of experiences to deal with, but overall, shit was simple.

I had a scheduled life that I didn’t really have to control. I went to school, came home, exercised occasionally, consumed the dinner that was provided to me and went to sleep. In retrospect, I didn’t have a very hard life because my parents pretty much did the necessary tasks to keep me alive. I always had food, transportation and a comfortable home, and since then, not a lot has changed except for the fact that I am no longer a kid. The very fact that I had my days essentially planned out for me meant that all I had to think about was general schoolkid issues (i.e. homework, what social group I wanted to be a part of, being “cool”).

I did not have to think.

I remember hearing my older peers talk about the perils of “adulting”, a verb of which I currently wholeheartedly understand. Adulting is, in short, ridiculous. Being pushed into this eerie world without your parents holding your hand at the tender age of 18 is shocking and terrifying and frankly, very hard. Now that I have to actively focus on feeding myself, cleaning my home, paying for transportation and managing my finances, my childhood simplicity has suddenly vanished.

When I look back on the day I moved out; I revelled in my newfound freedom. In the months after that day, I was slowly slapped in the face with the reality that my schedule and my livelihood and my sanity were in my hands. Whether I attended my lecture, my job, drank enough water or ate enough food were tasks that were all up to me, and I wasn’t used to it. Life wasn’t about dealing with bullies or worrying about if I’ve revised enough, anymore. It became about surviving.

Don’t get me wrong; I do love my life. I love my freedom and the control I have over myself. I love the fact that I can do whatever I want and the fact that I am becoming the woman I always wanted to be, but every now and again this freedom becomes a bit too much. I sometimes want to go back to the chubby, unibrow-ed, 10-year-old girl who went to school 8 hours a day and came home to watch “That’s So Raven” while eating the dinner her parents cooked for her. I do wish I appreciated the simplicity when I had it, but whenever I reminisce, I’m reminded of that same 10-year-old who wanted to be the independent, confident lady I am today. So, I guess it’s all worth it.

Simple or not, I’m living.

By Salvi Shahlaie

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