GROWING (IN) PAINS – On Confidence In Adulthood

‘I can’t wait to be an adult…’

‘I can’t wait to be an adult…’

I remember thinking that as a child repeatedly as though I was casting a spell.
It was my greatest desire really, a dream that felt a little far-fetched or unattainable. As I wandered around in my little body, adulthood seemed like a distant fantasy. Like being able to grab a star from the sky, skip school whenever I wanted or fly. Although it was going to be inevitable and would eventually happen, I prayed that time would go by faster and faster. Lord knows I wanted it so bad. I really did.

There were two main reasons I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up. Of course, the first one was freedom – the ability to do everything and anything whenever and however I wanted.
The idea of being able to call the shots all day, every day was enticing and, obviously, each time I heard the words “no, you can’t wear that” or “no you can’t wear that”, I’d cast my spell again with much more persistence. I’d think to myself: “maybe if I say it louder, it will happen quicker…?”.

The second reason I was so eager to become the boss of my own life was because of all the confidence the adults around me exuded. They wandered around the world like it was their oyster, and limits only existed beyond the lines they chose to not cross. It seemed they made decisions without a second thought or a grain of doubt. They appeared sure of every move they made with the freedom they gained through age.
What was confidence to me? I assumed it was somehow the golden ticket we were given when we finally ‘become of age’ and freedom was the currency.

Oh, how quickly the night changes.

As it turned out, time did go by so fast, although I don’t think that had anything to do with the spell I cast all those years ago…

As my age turned into two digits and my teenage years become a distant memory with each passing year, I’ve learnt how wrong I was to assume so much based on appearances. Now I see what I didn’t then and know things that at times I wish I didn’t. Turns out the adults from my childhood weren’t necessarily choosing what lines not to cross, but rather than lines, they had walls to climb and the unknown waiting on the other side. Turns out they were all Oscar-worthy actors who held their heads up whilst hiding their trembling fists behind their back.

Adulthood quickly taught me that freedom comes with the cost of responsibility. Meanwhile, confidence is an art rehearsed over and over again till you scrape your knee or bruise your ego. The wounds that band-aids won’t fix can only be treated with more practice, more falls, and more attempts of getting back up. Despite all this though, sometimes it still doesn’t get quite perfected.

To me, confidence means trust. Trust in myself. Trust that the choices I make will land me where I’m meant to be. And trust that the person I am becoming is someone I’ll be happy to smile back at in the mirror.  

Growing pains and shattered hopes have a way of making confidence dwindle back and forth, up, down and sideways.

Now, I can’t help but think back to that child who couldn’t wait for boy problems and a whole load of cash in bulky money bags. In my memory, her self-assurance was not on a pendulum that swung back and forth but was as steady and calm as the sea on a warm day. She wanted the freedom of the girls twice her age who wore bright red lipstick and tight dresses – eventually, she got too.

Before I step out of the house, I always put on that red lipstick that introduces me to the room before I get the chance to speak. Now I can put on all the fancy tight dresses. There are times when I do. Sometimes though, I don’t as I contemplate how my body looks in the mirror. It sure leaves me wondering: that confidence – the genuine kind – I perhaps already had yet so badly craved still, where did it all go?

To be continued…

Your restless romantic roamer

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