A few days ago, this post inspired me to write the words I am writing today. Before you read on (and I hope you do), click through to read the trigger for what is to come.
Adele recently released her second single from the long-awaited album 25. The song is entitled When We Were Young and although some of the lyrics lead to confusion, they also made me think about the childhood I had and how differently a child reacts to certain situations compared to an adult. It made me think about those clichéd contrasts that I suppose are clichéd for a reason. Innocent VS. experienced. Carefree VS. duty-bound. Naive VS. mature.
Mature is a good word. I have been called it so many times I’ve lost track of which camp it belongs to. Childhood or adulthood? Being mature. Is it a virtue or a vice? Being a mature child is not an easy label to wear. It excludes you from the fun and the oblivious and pushes you into a world where well-behaved = friend-zoned. Vice versa, being a naive adult sounds more like a reproach than a compliment. Comments such as “grow up”, “get a grip” or even “gosh you’re gullible” seem very popular.
Where do we draw the line? When do we stop being young? Adele is only 25 and there she is, talking about the past like it was decades ago. And yet. I am no stranger to such thoughts: When I was young, making decisions didn’t seem to pose a problem. When I was young, I barely knew the value of money and I did not know that life doesn’t come easy. I did not know the real meaning of failure and perseverance, I could not even fathom the importance of patience, acceptance and strength.
When I was young, I did not value my sleep. I did not value the sacrifice my precious mother was making for me, day and night. I did not value the luck I had to live in such an exotic country like Morocco. I did not value the very present, this story in-the-making I was creating for myself, the foundations I was pouring for my future novel. I did not value the advantages of learning Arabic or French, nor did I truly understand the privilege of being a polyglot. I did not value the Moorish architecture surrounding me, the interlocking patterns and the bold colours.
Those may all sound like regrets from childhood when they are in fact nothing but praise to adulthood. So often, we are drawn to our past, daydreaming about childhood the way we dream of something inaccessible. So often, we think back, wishing we could time travel. But isn’t it just great to be financially independent? Isn’t it just great to feel so many emotions at once? Yes we are confused and yes, we are worried and stressed but aren’t we also excited, proud and confident? Isn’t it so fulfilling to know we are building our own house, brick by brick, “like grown-ups do”? Isn’t it so incredible to think that we are not dreaming of becoming? We are becoming.
For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.