It was my birthday recently, though not a significant one. I’m old enough now to be a Real Adult who can cope with Real Life, and to some extent, with a lot of help from my friends, I am. On the other hand, when I’m having a bad day, which has happened a lot recently for reasons I don’t care about enough to work out, I regress to the mental level of a small child.
Growing up is not particularly in vogue at the moment, or at least not with the people I spend my time with (the kind of people who build fortresses out of boxes at work and who find gifs of cats falling over hilarious), but there are good and bad aspects of childhood. At my worst, I epitomise all the bad ones; I am selfish, petulant, impatient, lacking in foresight and very easily scared. The trouble with being like this in the context of, say, my job, is that when I can’t do something the first time, it’s no longer considered adorable to sulk about it. If I get overwhelmed because there are too many people and I forget how to act normally in a social context (because all my brainpower is being used up trying to drown out the shouty self-hating voices), walking off and/or bursting into tears are not socially acceptable things to do.
I’m well aware that these are skills I once had. I’m also aware that achieving a similar level of social aptitude to those around me is not an impossible task (especially given that I work at a software company). The trouble is that life is a lot bigger and scarier now than when I was five, and new experiences do not arrange themselves so that each is just scarier enough than the last that I can deal with it and not run away screaming (or, as is more my style, hide under the nearest piece of furniture).
My life at the moment, as lives are wont to do, contains a reasonable number of Things which are all scary in their own way, and my childish lack of perspective means that I tend to see them all at once, feel terrified and want to give up. A further issue with not being five any more is that I’m responsible for myself, so when I’m crushed by the overwhelming despair of having forgotten to go to an event which I arranged myself only a couple of days ago (childish characteristic #n+1: I fail utterly at organising my own life. But there’s no one to do it for me) there is no one to pick me up.
Somewhat paradoxically, I am in fact capable of picking myself up, although in moments of panic I tend to forget this. Also I am stubborn and want the world to revolve around me, so I feel like it is my right to be rescued by someone else. If I’m feeling particularly obtuse I even blame the people around me for not being that rescuer; although anyone who has tried will know that this is pretty futile.
So, a solution to the problem exists, but as I’m a mathematician and not a physicist that isn’t enough. All I need now is a brave, responsible and self-confident adult to help me implement it. Maybe I could be one of those (that might be a joke, but even the part of me that behaves like a five-year old isn’t laughing).