Saturday, 2 November 2013

Growing Up, Peter Pan Syndrome and Roald Dahl

So I have been absolutely terrible at blogging lately, I think it's been just under a month since I last came on Blogger at all, but logging in today I found this post I wrote a while ago, unpublished, but finished. If, like me, you're feeling terrified by the realisation that you actually exist and have to figure out something you have to do with the rest of your life and quickly, or, as is more likely, you're not and have no idea what I'm talking about, please have a read. I know I'm publishing this a bit late for Halloween, but seriously finally figuring out that I'm an actual person scared me far more than anything I've seen in the last week, so if you're not ready to be done with all that is frightening this October/ November then enjoy..:

Recently I've been feeling completely confused and scared by the whole idea of growing up. Maybe it's because I'm going to be 18 and 'legally an adult' in about a month, or maybe because I've finally sent off my university application to 5 universities, the one I eventually go to determining the course of the rest of my life. What used to be Roald Dahl's 'Revolting Rhymes' has turned into Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber', worrying about homework deadlines has turned into worrying about the meaning of life... actually deadlines are still there, but that's not the point. Everyone around me is having an  existential crisis and nobody has any idea what to do about it (enter Dan Howell, I'll post his amazing YouTube video below..).
And for some unknown reason I've taken comfort in Roald Dahl of all things. I've never been someone to believe in 'growing out' of things - why shouldn't a book that meant a lot to me when I was younger still mean a lot to me now? The whole idea of having to renounce things just because you're apparently 'too old' to like it anymore is just ridiculous to me. But anyway.. I saw a Roald Dahl quote the other day and it just got me thinking how much of a great writer he really was:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

Someone with such a vivid, wild imagination - an imagination that came up with Willy Wonka and the Witches and everything that made so many childhoods great - probably didn't ever really grow up at heart. And why should any of us? We move from being these amazing human beings, wanting to do everything we can and living completely in the moment when we're children, to depressed, scared people with little imagination, unable to live without worrying about the past or future. Obviously that's a generalisation, but seeing Roald Dahl quotes pop up on the internet every now and then always reminds me of what I should really be worrying about in my every day life, if I should be worrying about anything at all.
And then the other night, whilst having a Tim Minchin marathon on YouTube, I stumbled across 'When I Grow Up' from Matilda the musical. Oh my God this song. I can't even describe my love for it. Yes it's a happy song, but there's also an almost wistful quality to it that sums up everything I'm feeling at the moment. We go through our early childhoods believing our parents are something like invincible. We say "when I grow up I'm going to be...tall/smart/brave/etc. just like my Mum/ Dad", and then at some point, unconsciously, we let life take over and everything changes, days flying by in a blur of school, teenage arguments and homework. Until one day we actually realise what's happened. Suddenly we're reaching our late-teens, our childhood gone, and we take a look at ourselves and think that all the things we thought we would have become by now we haven't, or at least not yet. We realise that, although we always thought our Mums and Dads would never be afraid of anything, they would probably be just as scared as anyone else were someone they love to be threatened. Of course it's not a bad thing to learn that all people are just as human as ourselves, but there is something sad about the realisation that most of what you believe at a young age isn't true. So then looking at Minchin's lyrics from those two perspectives, the optimistic, child-like side and what some would depressingly call the 'realistic', they can become so profound and beautiful it just makes me want to cry...

When I grow up,
I will be tall enough to reach the branches
That I need to reach to climb the trees
You get to climb when you're grown up.

And when I grow up,
I will be smart enough to answer all
The questions that you need to know 
The answers to before you're grown up.

And when I grow up,
I will eat sweets every day,
On the way to work, and I will
Go to bed late every night.
And I will wake up
When the sun comes up, and I 
Will watch cartoons until my eyes go square,
And I won't care 'cause I'll be all grown up.

The point I'm getting to, I think, is that I don't want to be one of those people who is constantly terrified of the future. Who knows how we get out of what could become an endless cycle of fear, but it seems most people do make their way out of it at some point, or at least learn to deal with it, so fingers crossed :). Peter Pan Syndrome and existential crisis is most definitely the most scary thing I've come across this Halloween, and maybe existence and 'growing up' is just something everyone has to realise and deal with before being chucked out of the school system into a world of university, jobs, taxes and fending for yourself. Who knows? But until I do find out what the point of life is, I will try to view the world with "glittering eyes" and not be too depressed by the idea that I probably never will own a bakery called 'Valjean's', much as I want that to happen. :) Have a happy day!

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