The Lull in the Conversation

Graphic by Eric Estibeiro

I remember being five and thinking about how big the ten-year-old seniors at my school were. They were older, taller, more mature, smarter even. I remember being ten and thinking the same about the 14-year-olds in class 9. I wanted to be in high school, I wanted to be in the student council. I wanted to be older and more important. I remember growing older each year and fantasizing about being even older on my next birthday. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I still do.

I have come to realize that what I am now is considered to be an adult. Yet, I find myself having this conversation with those around me every day – “I’m not supposed to know this. Ask an adult.” “Sarah, you are an adult.” In my head, I’m still 15. Or maybe I’m 19, but 19-year-olds aren’t adults, right? I mean, technically, I’m still a teenager. I’m still in college, which means I’m a student, which means I’m a kid. And therefore, all these ‘adult’ responsibilities shouldn’t find space on my tiny teenage shoulders. And yet, I find myself at 19, living alone in a strange city. I find myself at 19, worrying about money, college, and the future. I find myself at 19 with two college friends and one best friend from high school whom I’ve stuck with since class 9. I find myself knowing that it’s okay to not talk every day to be present in each other’s lives.

I now have mature conversations, make mature decisions and know, if not fully accept, that I’m not a kid anymore. It’s not that easy because so much still feels the same, you know? I still feel like a kid when I’m sitting in a classroom with my friends, laughing at the silliest jokes. When I go down to the college canteen during lunch break or beg my mom to let me go on vacation with my friends, nothing has changed. Except, instead of the 20 rupee note my father handed me that morning, I ask if they have UPI, and instead of my friends swarming my mother at the school gate, I call home for permission. And then there are those moments of realization; when you’re talking to your mom, and you realize that she’s telling you things she’s never discussed. That you’re not a child things need to be hidden from any longer. Or when you go home on break and meet your school friends. You talk as if nothing has changed till there’s a lull in the conversation, and someone asks, “When did we all grow up?” No one has an answer.

Growing up doesn’t seem too bad, most of the time. It’s because most of the time, it doesn’t feel like anything at all. Each day goes by, you work hard, have fun, cry a little sometimes, and go to bed. Then suddenly, you’re 19, writing an essay about how much has changed, knowing then that so much has. It’s like the lull in the conversation, the little moments where you realize that everything is not what it used to be. But I don’t think the hardest part about growing up is the change, or the lost years or the memories. The hardest part about growing up, is not knowing when you did.

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9 thoughts on “The Lull in the Conversation

  1. ishika

    this made me cry, not the fake “omg i’m crying’ but the ‘wow, i just shed a tear because this moved me beyond words’. i’m re-reading. i love you.

  2. sanya 504

    this piece feels like a warm hug!! It’s wonderful how beautifully you have expressed the feelings that a lot of us often resonate with. <33


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