In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself
From the time our juvenile mouths learned how to form actual words, and our small baby brains learned how to put these words together into something roughly resembling a sentence. From the time adults stopped talking to us like they’d been hit over the head with something heavy and blunt, and started asking us questions to which they expected a slightly more sophisticated answer than having a small fistful of mashed carrot thrown at them, we’ve been asked the same question: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
While there have been some definite life improvements since that time, not least that it is now much less likely for us to feel the need to lob mashed carrot at anyone (although, admittedly, there are times…), there have also been some serious developments of a rather more troubling nature. Long gone are the days when literally any verbal response to that question would result in a smile, an “ahhhh”, and a fond hair-ruffle. Long gone too are the days when we ourselves genuinely believed that we could be anything from an astronaut to a slice of cheese when we grow up if we really wanted to be.
It has recently struck me, with no small amount of horror and a slight queasy feeling, that “what do you want to be when you grow up?” isn’t even the question we get asked anymore. Somehow, somewhere, at some point when none of us were looking (probably because we were all too busy watching amusing videos of cats) the question suddenly became: “what do you want to be in approximately 13 months time, when university shakes your hand and politely asks you to leave via the nearest exit?”
So apparently we’re all going to have to grow up really rather soon and no amount of mashed vegetable throwing will make this any less inevitable. But there is one slight snag with this growing up lark, and it’s this: how do you know when you’ve got there?
Frankly I’m as baffled as you are, but I wouldn’t be much of a guide if I admitted that I had absolutely no idea either, would I? So I have compiled a small checklist, pilfered from the wisdom of friends and odd people on the bus, to help you to recognise when you have made the unfortunate mistake of becoming a grown-up.
1. Your photographs are in frames, not stuck to the wall with disintegrating blu tack.
2. These photographs depict pleasant holidays, important life events, and treasured family members. They do not depict your friends dressed up as Smurfs, or asleep on a minibus with something obscene drawn on their face.
3. You own more than one suit, and you don’t just wear them for funerals.
4. You understand complicated terms like “fixed-rate” and “low-yield” and “tax” because they actually apply to you.
5. You’re instinctive reaction upon seeing the first snowfall of the year is anything other than “yes! snow day!”
6. There is not even a small part of you that would secretly like to be given Disney pyjamas on Christmas Day.
7. You think Christmas is the season of long queues at the Tesco check-outs and not the season of festive magic, eating too many sweets, and getting slightly over-excited about reindeer.
8. You are no longer a tiny bit surprised everytime you do a load of washing and nothing horrendous happens to your clothes.
9. You haven’t given a sizeable proportion of the inanimate objects in your home names.
10. At night you fall asleep next to your partner, not your teddy bear.
If you have read this checklist and discovered that you are in fact already a grown-up then I really am sorry, you have my deepest sympathy. But perhaps my final piece of sage advice will offer some consolation.
Old books are like old people – they smell funny, they often say strange things we don’t really understand, and they have a tendency to ramble on apparently making very little sense. But every once in a while it’s worth giving them your full attention, because there must be some reason they’re still around after so long, and just occasionally they say something really rather clever.
The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.