Why don’t you just grow up?

University changes people. Some discover a passion they never thought they had, like jazz, swing dancing or quidditch. Others have their minds transformed by the majesty of knowledge, walking the earth with eyes wide open to the beauty of life. Other people become massive bell-ends because they’ve managed to have a lot of sex and think other people are impressed by that.

But one thing university is supposed to do is force you to grow up. I’m not sure, because we all know that one person who tried to wash a toaster in a sink in third year, and still posts their laundry home to their parents every weekend.

So what is being a grown up? Is it being careful with money, in control of your work, responsible with your health? Unlikely. I can count, on one hand, the number of people I know who actually achieve these things. And they’re really boring.

I definitely don’t feel grown up. I still ring my mum a few times a week to get her to comfort me when I’m stressed, or so I can brag about my achievements and receive a “well done!” Like a figurative gold star on the name chart of my mind. (On this imaginary name chart, by the way, I am beating everyone and get all the gold stars because I’m the best.)

I think farts are hilarious, I sleep with a teddy bear, I can’t walk past a climbing frame without being heartbroken that I can’t play on it any more. I still feel like I’m going to get told off when I eat chicken nuggets for breakfast or chocolate spread straight out of the jar. When parents on the street say to their children ‘Mind out of the lady’s way’, I can’t handle it. I’m not “the lady”! “The lady” is a middle-aged cashier in Tescos, or someone my Nan knows. I still feel closer in age to those toddlers, but their parents are only a few years older than me.

But then at other times I feel like I’ve got this whole thing down. I can buy myself the appropriate over-the-counter medicine for whatever illness I’m experiencing. I generally know the time of my train in advance, and at least attempt to get to the station in plenty of time. It’s not having to bother reading the microwave instructions for something, and just whacking it in until that basic human instinct tells me it’s probably ready. All that is stuff that children can’t do. They can’t even reach the microwave. The idiots.

I don’t know if those feelings ever go away. I imagine some of it fades when you have your own children and you realise how stupid they are, and how clever and great you are in comparison. I guess it’s also when you start to feel important and meaningful, when people start to take you seriously. I’m excited for that. I’m excited about making a difference and having an opinion people care about. Maybe that is being a grown up, I hope so. Then again, I don’t suppose that’s going to stop me being afraid of the dark. I don’t know. I think I’ll just ask my mum.

Jen Pritchard

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