Growing up is messy. It’s cruel, sad, and it means saddling up a whole lot new responsibilities. It’s not only about age; it’s about spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual maturity.

Ironically, though, some people never will.

As a psychology degree holder, of course, naturally, I will make my own theories (and not test them properly, hey, I’m not a psychologist) and believe they are true unless proven otherwise. Take them or leave them, but here are my 3 theories about growing up:


1. If you have never been naughty when you were young, you’ll always be tempted to be naughty. Most often, that temptation wins.

When I was in Primary and Junior High School, I was a very, very nice student who obliged to every teacher’s saying. Well, almost every teacher. I did my homework. I studied for tests. I got good grades. I joined the Student Council. I delivered the graduation speech. I never got a single detention (okay, I lied, I did get one because of getting my handphone out after school hours. I know, right?), a single red mark, nor a single (major) wrongdoing. Life was steady.

And I was always curious of what being naughty is like.

So in Senior High School, I did become naughty. I skipped classes, got caught, and my teacher said not to do it again (without getting punished). I copied my friends’ homework (with the teacher’s and my friend’s knowledge). I played Mario Kart in class with five others (all boys). I talked loudly in class. I played in class. I skipped class (again). And somehow I still managed to get good grades, so the teachers never did once discipline me.

Thus I’ve gotten my fair share of naughtiness. I’ve satisfied my craving. When I stepped to university, I could control my life the right way.

But I know some friends who are not as lucky. They were such nice students when they were in high school and by the time they tasted their new-found freedom in university, they abused it. The stories were pretty sad – from drugs to sexual relationships. The temptation wins.

I guess, the safest time to be naughty is in high school. At least, you still have parents, teachers, and mentors to stop you when necessary. You are still scared to break the rules and more willing to do what authority figures tell you. By the time you hit university, you think you are the smartest person on earth, and it will be hard to put a brake on everything.

2. Time stops for parents. You will forever be treated as children, especially when you study overseas.

A friend tells me that his parents always treat him like he was 13 or something – the age when he first went overseas to study. Now in his late 20s, his parents always talk about the details of the slightest things, like asking how the days unfold, giving reminders on doing certain stuffs, giving more reminders on doing some other stuffs, and asking questions about day-to-day activities.

And if you think about it, it is a little bit silly for he has been living independently for a decade or so.

My parents always think that I’m still 17, too. Nuff said.

3. You grow up and live different lives, but when seeing an old friend, you’ll travel back in time.

Have you been around lately? High school reunions are often held and even if in university you are a whole different person, going out with your old friends makes you go back in time to 15-year-old you who didn’t know anything. You would start uncensoring your chats, gossiping like those teenage girls whose crushes just messaged them back, and reviving all those school memories – the good and the bad, for old time’s sake.

This is both good news and bad news. Good news is, congratulations, you are still young at heart. Bad news is, if you were a shy, quiet kid who hated high school and (perhaps) got your share of being bullied, you would suddenly feel insecure despite the person you have become now. Somehow, I am always reminded of the mistakes I have done during those years, and it’s really not the best thing in the world.

So these are my three theories about growing up – they are free, so take them of leave them.