Adolescence is a funny time in anyone’s life. It’s the metaphorical bridge between childhood and adulthood. Unfortunately, it’s a rickety old bridge above a deep gorge with a lot of missing bits of wood in between and a strong wind shaking it quite fiercely. Negotiating this bridge is not an easy task. If you’re wondering why I’m talking about puberty (usually experienced between the ages of 12-18) at the age of 22, you probably haven’t heard another one of my pseudo-psychological theories yet. (Actually, can you call something pseudo-psychological? Isn’t most of psychology a pseudoscience anyhow?)
Most people start puberty at the ages of 11-14. In guys; their balls drop, their Adam’s apple starts to stick out, their voice becomes deeper, and they are kicked in their newly dropped balls by an unrelenting, all-consuming and frankly, maddening, sexual appetite. Porn replaces cartoons and girls take the place of sports heroes. Physically, it’s a tumultuous time. I was fortunate enough to suffer through this unpleasant process early and quickly. By the time I was 15; I was 6 feet tall and had a voice that boomed over the squeaks of my peers.
Unfortunately, this phase in human development has another, far more diabolical purpose. It is during this time that most people are expected to acquaint themselves with the intricacies of that most inexplicable phenomenon: Social Interaction. The rules of the game are never told to us. We are left fumbling about in the dark trying to figure them out ourselves and most people succeed – though success in this matter depends on your immediate social group, where you are, who you are and the culture you’re living in. People either become followers of mainstream culture or counter-culture or counter-mainstream counter-culture and so on. Some people became leaders in their peer group, while others became followers. But by the time you entered college; you knew the rules quite well.
By the time you were 18, you had made and lost friends many times over. You had made BFFs and Frenemies. You had “a gang,” so to speak. That gang is simply your social circle. The people you hung out with during recess and lunch and after school. Whom you met up with on Saturday mornings to indulge in whatever group activities you indulged in. On whose birthdays you bought gifts and went for parties. You had your first experiences with romantic infatuations. You had crushes. Asked girls/guys out or were asked out. Had fledgling school romances or, if you were in Bethany High, full-fledged sexual relationships with little emotional contact. (This was brought to my attention by people who would go, “You’re from Bethany? Awesome! I’ve heard the girls there are complete sluts!” and I would go, “Really? Wish I knew them!”). Basically, by 18, and definitely by 22; the rules of social interaction are known to you.
I was never a friendly kid. I was shy. Very shy. If it wasn’t for my height or unusual build or propensity to pick fights with teachers, I would’ve easily passed under most radars. Instead, I was treated with a mixture of infamy and indifference. People knew me. But no-one befriended me. And this isn’t a sad story of the lonely duckling and studly swan. This was my world and I liked it. I didn’t have a social group, but I had a few seniors from school who were my quizzing teammates with whom I’d play football in the evening and discuss politics and music and sport. But I was sort of a guest member. I never went to their homes or their birthday parties. And I didn’t feel bad about it. “You guys aren’t playing football today?” “Nah, we’re going to XYZ’s birthday party” “Right, tomorrow then.” They wouldn’t call me their friend, but they were probably the closest I ever had to friends.
Delhi was no different. 2 years in KV. Heckled, hazed and ridiculed; I didn’t make any friends in school here. I didn’t care. There were things happening at home that occupied most of my mind.
Then I came to college. I was surrounded by people whose emotional quotient far outstripped mine. And here, I finally made a friend or two. It took me time. People started calling me at home when they were bored and would talk to me for an hour or so! I ended up with my own personal team of clowns to entertain and annoy me at home (my roommates). I started talking to girls. Yes, before I was 18, I never spoke to girls. I thought it was evident.
This. These few years here, have been my puberty. I’m a child living in a world of adults. And I’m lost. I need a crash course. I need to learn the rules. Apparently I can’t go with the trial and error method you guys had the luxury of experimenting with when you were 13, because it doesn’t work with 22 year-olds. I don’t know who my friends are and who merely count as acquaintances. I don’t know anything about dealing with people. Or dealing with groups of people. I feel intimidated by them and so I plug in an mp3 player.
In conclusion, I would appreciate someone tutoring me to get my emotional age up to speed with my physical age. I’m told I’m a quick learner.