The Five Stages of Being a Kidult

 

Less than a year ago, I turned 18.

It was strange. At 11:59 pm I was watching Disney’s Princess Protection Program and banging pots and pans together. Exactly one minute later, I had the legal right to vote for my nation’s leaders, to drive motor vehicles and to stay up past my bedtime.

It’s hard to believe that within a few moments I had escaped the pimply angst of adolescence and stumbled into the glamorous world of adulthood. Eagerly, I turned to the mirror to see if I’d been physically transformed in any way. Nope, I still looked the same – like a remarkably short 13-year old with a small, inconspicuous bald patch. I’d had that patch for so long I’d even given it a name. Harold.

To be honest, I even felt the same. I felt like a child. I wanted to go back to my pots and pans. I wanted to lick the icing off cupcakes and the cream off Oreos. I wanted to watch PG-13 movies with adult supervision.

But I was not a kid. And I was not an adult either. Somehow, I had found myself in that blurry no-man’s land in-between the two spheres. I had become a kidult.

And exactly three months later, they packed me off to university.

I found it all terribly unfair. For 18 years straight, I had been told to “Go to your room!”, “Eat your vegetables, young lady” and “Go to bed, now!” And all of a sudden, one fine day, I was being asked to live in a different country, to provide nourishment and sustenance for myself and Harold, and to go to bed whenever I felt like it.  I was horrified. How dare they give me the freedom to do whatever I wanted? Didn’t they know how young and dumb I was?

In the months I have been here, however, I have gradually had to come to terms with my hybrid identity as a Kidult. The process was by no means easy, and it happened in five distinct phases:

Phase 1: Denial

In the beginning, adulthood was a mere technicality. Technically, I was 18 years old, and therefore legally an adult. But this was merely an inconsequential detail. In my first month here, I pretended like nothing had changed. I’d constantly text my mother to ask her things like “It’s 11 pm. I should go to bed now, right?” Sometimes, I’d supply her with mundane details of my life, such as “I just poured some water into a glass and then drank it” and “I am going to floss.” For about two weeks, she pretended to be enthusiastic: “Yes! Stay hydrated, I’m proud of you!” or “Dental hygiene will serve you well later in life!” But as time passed, her attitude changed. First she started to respond with “K”. Then she started to seen-zone me. It felt like a bad break-up. Clearly, if I wanted Santa to bring me any presents this year, I had to grow up.

 Phase 2: Anger

Now that I’d made up my mind to be an adult, I had to act like one. What do Well-Adjusted Adults do? For one, they’re independent. They don’t rely on their parents; they take charge of their own lives. Clearly, I was not very good at this – not only did I text my mother so much that she started to consider a restraining order, I also Skyped my parents every single day. If I wanted to be a real adult, I’d have to wean myself off this destructive habit.

But I couldn’t. I kept trying to find excuses to Skype them.

“I should call; today is Dad’s half-birthday” or “A dormant volcano on the Lesser Sunda islands became active today; I should call to find out if my parents are okay”. Clearly, I was addicted – but good old Skype saved me. Somehow, it realized that I was slipping, so it compensated by freezing every 30 seconds. This meant that instead of talking to my parents, I spent most of my time making Adele proud by screaming “HELLO? HELLO?” at my laptop screen.  Skype made me so angry that I almost threw my laptop out of the window once, but luckily, I couldn’t open it. I took this as a sign: the problem was not Skype. It was me. Much like the Wi-Fi signal in my room, I was weak.

Phase 3: Bargaining

Another thing that independent adults seem to do well is money. But financial responsibility wasn’t really my thing. It took me a while to even register the fact that money has value – it is not a just a piece of paper with pictures and words on it. During our initial week on campus, they’d suggested that we download an app called “You Need a Budget”. My reaction to this was “Lol.”

It turns out that the joke was on me, because I later realized that I was not, in fact, Scrooge McDuck. I was not even a duck. I was an Adult, an Independent One at that, with Expenses.

Having realized this, I began to overcompensate. One of the toughest financial decisions I had to make was “Meal swipe or campus dirhams?” [Meal swipe: 30-unit swipes used to purchase campus meals; campus dirhams: university-specific currency, like Monopoly money, but real]. I needed to have enough campus dirhams to spend on toilet paper, but on the other hand, I also needed meal swipes, because I’m a compulsive hoarder and I liked knowing that I had 200 swipes left on my card at any point in time.

Ironically enough, my desire for financial optimization came at a cost. I’d spend so much time in the queue trying to bargain with myself that my food would often get cold. This made me sad.

Phase 4: Depression

All my efforts to become an independent adult fell through quickly the day I fell ill. It was just a mild cold, but to me, it felt like the plague. I lay in bed sniffling and patting my own head, because that’s what my mommy did when I was ill. I also tried to give myself a back massage, so in addition to suffering from the plague, I ended up mildly spraining my shoulder.

For the next three days, I was a sorry sight. I wanted hot chocolate without having to get out of bed, so I sat on a chocolate bar for a day. I wanted warmth, but the air conditioning in my room was stuck on minus 55 degrees Celsius. I wanted to sneeze, but there was no one to say “Bless you”, so I had to hold it in. And I wanted to be babied, but I was a grown-up.

Phase 5: Acceptance

Clearly, I had no choice. I had to accept the undeniable fact that I was a kidult. In an ultimate attempt to endorse this new identity, I decided to go wild and do the one thing that defines Adulthood: grocery-shopping. I am proud to announce that a few days ago, I went to the Convenience Store, and I bought my first vegetable. Then I called up my mother to inform her of my purchase. “What did you buy?” she asked me. I had no idea. I described it to her, and she scanned her Mother Portal for answers. As it turns out, I’d bought a rambutan. This was, apparently, a fruit. Darn it. My first vegetable was actually my first fruit. Never mind. It was a symbolic victory. I’d conquered my phobia of health, and I’d made a wise investment in my future.

But you know what the best part was?

When I looked into the mirror that day, I realized that I’d finally begun aging into Harold.

Originally published on The Gazelle.

 

Walking Into Walls: A Special (Navigation) Story

When I was young, I used to walk into walls a lot.

My parents would let me toddle about the house, as you would allow any normal two-year-old to do, but the minute they took an eye off me, I would invariably find a wall to walk straight into. I like to think that I was a child prodigy conducting empirical research into theoretical physics from a very young age, but my parents were convinced that something was wrong with me. Strange.

The “phase” continued until I was seven. My seemingly unfulfilled desire to collide with solid vertical surfaces, repeatedly, resulted in the loss of two front teeth, a mild concussion and for a short while, my ability to communicate in any form other than frog-like croaking. In movies and novels, when things like this happen to children, they usually become child prodigies, or ambidextrous. I was already a child prodigy, so in my case, head banging had the reverse effect. I became the opposite of a child prodigy, and amphibious.

Spatial navigation remains a problem for me. I haven’t learnt to drive yet (thank goodness for everyone else on the road) but I’ve practically been forbidden from giving anyone else directions. I’ve been living in the same city for 15 years now but I can barely get from my bedroom to the kitchen. To this day, I haven’t been able to find my Narnia wardrobe. And I’m convinced I have one; I can’t have walked through all those walls for nothing. I’m pretty sure I am the Chosen One.

Anyway, strangers have stopped me a few times and asked me for directions to the nearest railway station or Starbucks or Cold-War-themed Disney Adventure Park – you know, ordinary tourist stuff. And I’m so pleased that I bear the look of a well-travelled, knowledgeable local that I ignore the fact that I still need to ask myself (sometimes out loud) which hand I write with to tell my right hand from my left. My usual go-to is “go straight along this road and then take a left”. Sometimes I mix it up a little, and say, “take a left and then go straight along the road.” If the asker looks like he/she expects more, I add “and then take the third exit off the roundabout to your left”. Always left, never right. Right seems suspicious, somehow – anything that practically announces its own degree of correctness is probably wrong. Anyway, I’m not putting their lives in actual danger or anything, just inconveniencing them a little bit. Plus, there’s only one cliff in the area I live, and what are the chances that they’ll drive off that? My mother just doesn’t seem to understand.

Psychology has an explanation for my disability. Redistributed grey matter. People who have more grey matter in the right posterior hippocampus have better spatial navigation. ‘Right’ is my least favourite side. ‘Posterior’ is Shakespeare for buttocks. Hippos are weird. All this supports my main argument: I’m pretty sure I lost some of that grey matter walking into all those walls.

Update: I just told my mother and she says that this is a circular argument. I can’t tell; is it?

Babies On A Plane: Sit Back, Relax, and Try Not To Cry (Too Much)

I’ve finally made it to my 50th post. After two years of blood, sweat, tears, anxiety medication and more sweat – I live in a tropical country – it’s finally happened. This blog was my baby, and my baby is all grown up *sheds single tear while staring into the distance in a powerful, masculine way*.

On that note, lets talk about babies.

As a rule, babies aren’t too bad. A little bit overrated (come on, they’re just overgrown potatoes) and I certainly wouldn’t buy one unless I got a good discount plus a free coffee mug, but from a distance I wouldn’t feel the need to throw sharp objects at them. That’s generally a good thing, I think.

There is only one exception to this rule. There is one place where baby-hating would be fully justified and even encouraged. Yup, you got it.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why they don’t allow sharp objects on flights.

Disclaimer: I did not/ do not have any babies of my own. I am not closely acquainted with any. I have concluded a business deal with a few but it ended in a lawsuit. The only credentials I have to speak on this matter is the fact that I was a baby once – something that I am not very proud of and would prefer not to speak about. So parents, do forgive my lack of empathy. My mother says that I am a vengeful person.

Anyway, BABIES WERE PUT ON FLIGHTS BY SATAN WHEN HE SAW THAT HUMAN BEINGS WERE ACTUALLY ENJOYING THE HELLFIRE AND SETTING UP DECKCHAIRS AND TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS AND TRYING TO SELL HELLFIRE ON EBAY. BABIES WERE MADE TO SLOWLY LEECH THE LIFE OUT OF YOU, 10,000 FEET UP IN THE AIR. THAT WAY, YOU’RE ALSO CLOSER TO HEAVEN, SO SATAN HAS MORE YUMMY CAMPING TREATS FOR HIMSELF. WHAT A DOUCHEBAG.

I think I should clarify that this post was provoked by my recent travels on a domestic flight, graced with the presence of not one, not two, but three spawns of Satan. For the purposes of gender-neutrality (#Equality) let’s call them Satan’s Spawn 1, Satan’s Spawn 2 and Satan’s Spawn 3. The SS, for short. Like the original SS, the infant SS too enjoyed committing what can only be classified as crimes against humanity. One of them looked distinctly like Heinrich Himmler.

SS1 was a troublemaker from the start. It had grabbed my hair and thrown its Binky at me in the airport before boarding the flight, so it’d already made it clear that it had something against me. The minute the flight took off, it began to bawl. Its parents pretended that it had a earache because the change in cabin pressure (yeah, right) but I know it was doing it specifically to irritate me. Irrefutable evidence of SS1’s devious mind came from the fact that it began to cry the minute its parents sat down in their seats, and started to giggle almost as soon as its parents took it for a walk up and down the aisle. It wanted to watch its victims suffer. You don’t get a good view when you’re sitting down.

SS2 was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It pretended to be the most angelic, holier-than-thou little human, an incarnation of Gandhi himself. I almost expected it to launch a non-violent protest and spin cotton. It blinked at everyone with these annoyingly perfect big blue eyes and smiled like it was in a beauty pageant. All the air stewards and stewardesses wanted to take pictures with it, like it was a celebrity or something. For some inexplicable reason, SS2 provoked my mother to say, out loud, “Aww, I wish I had another little baby.” This was strange for two reasons:

  1. How on earth could these screaming devil-children stir up her motherly instincts?
  2. She has me. What more could she possibly want?

I hate SS2.

SS3 was nowhere near as pretentious, but my God, he had the lung capacity of Tarzan. One would think that the flight was entirely powered by the sound energy being singlehandedly generated by that one-year-old. One saving grace was that, to make it easier for his audience, he had a wide range of frequencies to convey different messages. ‘Hungry’ was two screams followed by a prolonged cry. ‘Still hungry’ was one constant long wail. ‘Get that damn air stewardess out of my personal space’ involved a complex combination of short, angry screams and Binky-flinging. By the end of the flight, each and every one of us could help write an autobiography of SS3’s life, simply by interpreting its screams.

The situation was finally brought under control by one huge, terrifying-looking man (let’s call him Archangel Gabriel, God’s special messenger), who turned around and roared “QUIET” in the most fearsome voice he could muster. For a moment, both baby and parents were stunned, while the rest of us considered nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize and making him our Lord and Saviour. From then on, He became Enemy Number 1 for all babies and toddlers on that flight, with parents whispering “shush” and subtly gesturing towards Gabriel every time their babies tried to feign colic.

My trip got my thinking: Everything in a plane is supposed to be terrorist-proof or installed for safety reasons, but I think it was originally meant to keep us safe from babies. The huge metal cockpit doors? They ensure that the wailing doesn’t reach the pilots. Seatbelts? Without those, who knows where those squirmy toddlers might crawl to? In-flight magazines? Look, look, they have pretty pictures.

There’s only thing that we’re not utilising properly: the overhead storage cabin.

If you know what I mean.

An Open Letter to My 13-Year-Old-Self

Dear MushroomSupRox2DaCore,

Four years on, I feel that I am sufficiently older, wiser and arguably mature enough to tell you about all the things that you are going to do in the next one year, all the things that you should not do in the next one year and all the things that you should not do but will do anyway just because I’m telling you not to do it.

(Yes, you’re still a rebel in 2015).

Since you are currently in the stage wherein you think that the Internet is magic (it’s not, by the way – it’s actually witchcraft, there’s a fine difference) most of my advice has to do with social media etiquette. Social media is one of the two places where you’ll be spending a majority of your time in the next one year. The other place is remand home.

Kidding – unfortunately, you also retain your brilliant, awe-inspiring, and frankly genius, sense of humour.

Anyway, I feel that it is my duty to inform you about the dangers of the Internet, before you become one of the dangers of the Internet.

E-mail

What you will do: You are amazed. You can now send messages to your friends without having to wait for your carrier pigeon to come back! Plus, there are so many platforms to choose from – Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL. At this point, you will be struck by the overwhelming desire to be different. You must stand out from the motley crowd.

Gmail? More like Flea Mail.
Hotmail? More like What Mail.
Yahoo? More like Boohoo.
AOL? More like AWOL.

So you choose Zoho, because you can’t think of a mean rhyme for it.

And then, to make matters worse, your will insist that your username be “MushroomSupRox2DaCore” for two reasons:

  1. Accurate spelling and grammar is too mainstream.
  2. You rock to the core.

This makes your email ID: mushroomsuprox2dacore@zoho.com. You will never bother to change it, which means that, for the next four years and possibly more, you will be ostracized from civilized society and rejected from at least 17 universities.

What you should do: The carrier pigeon’s your only hope. Try to keep it alive.

Facebook

What you will do: You are 13, and therefore legally allowed to make a Facebook ID. This is it; the moment for which you’ve been waiting all your life. You do the following:

  1. You change your Facebook display picture. To a picture of your favourite punk rock band. In a flash of brilliance, you caption it “Mah favourite punk rock band”.
  2. You change your age on Facebook to 107 years (because you can), change your relationship status to “It’s complicated” and because the words “interested in” are perfectly innocuous to you, you change your bio to “Interested in men and women”. You also change your career to “Working at Unemployed” (refer to aforementioned flash of brilliance), your education to “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” and your language to “Sarcasm” because aren’t you just the sassiest little teenager?
  3. You play FarmVille.
  4. You play CityVille.
  5. You play CastleVille.
  6. You play ChefVille.
  7. You play CityVille 2.
  8. You ask for snow for your city in CityVille by notifying all your friends “GUYS I NEED SNOW PLZ. My snowmen are dying.”
  9. Your mother un-friends you.
  10. You ‘poke’ your mother.
  11. Your mother blocks you.
  12. You change your Facebook status to “2 bored 4 lyf. I LUV PANDAS!!!” It gets 53 likes.
  13. This is greatly encouraging so you proceed to change your Facebook status to “I LUV CHOCOLATE!!!” followed by “I LUV 2 PLAY!!!” followed by “I LUV EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!” and finally “I LUV FACEBOOK!!!”

Many years later, a friend will stalk your Facebook page, like and comment on each and every one of these statuses, and turn your one attempt at a 13-year-old-selfie into a meme. You will be rejected from 17 more universities.

What you should do: Do whatever you want on Facebook, but don’t put your real name. Either that, or make friends whose Facebook accounts have been deactivated. That way they can’t stalk you.

Twitter

What you will do: Tweet things like “Hey @JustinBieber please follow me I’m your biggest fan” to celebrities who are not Justin Bieber, until they block you.

What you should do: Stay far, far away from this website. (Rule of thumb: Don’t join Twitter if you still need a babysitter.)

So remember, dear 13-year-old-self, not to make the mistakes that I did.

But if you do, I’ll be waiting for you here in remand home.

And if you were wondering, yes, I am, in fact, on a roll today.

Yours insincerely,
Mushroom Sup the Older.

A New Year’s Resolution (Please Don’t Laugh Out Loud)

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new year for me. And I’m…

emoji

I don’t generally make New Year resolutions. I usually just carry forward the resolution I made back in 2006, which was to learn how to play ‘Maple Leaf Rag’ on the electronic keyboard. It’s been eight years and I am proud to say that I have successfully cultivated the ability to open my keyboard songbook to exactly the right page, without even having to check the index for the page number first. So there. Also, ‘maple leaf rag easy for beginners tutorial plz help’ shows up on my YouTube suggestions now. No small feat.

This year, however, is different. This year, I do have an original, contemporary resolution. Three, in fact. They are:

  1. Do not use ‘like’ in written or oral communication unless required for the purposes of comparison or the description of a feeling of moderate affection or for usage in the idiom ‘like attracts like’.
  2. Do not use ‘LOL’/ ‘lol’ in written or oral communication, except in conjunction with ‘lipop’.
  3. Do not use emoticons. No exceptions whatsoever.

Recently, my mother most kindly pointed out certain inflections in my speech:

Me: “So I was like…”
Mother: “STOP SAYING ‘LIKE’, STOP IT, STOP IT!”
Me: “Lol dude, chill out”
Mother: *disowns me, weeping*

I’ve been using “like” an awful lot these days. I begin, conjugate AND finish all my sentences with the word. It’s been impinging on any semblance of communicative skills I like (oh God, there it is again) to think that I possess. For example:

What Mushroom Sup wants to say: “The blinding sun cut through the azure skies, and a whiff of waffles hung in the air like ivy creepers to a brick wall.”

What Mushroom Sup really says: “It was like…the sun was like totally harshing my mellow, dude…and like, it was SO like…WAFFLE-Y. Like really, dude.”

I don’t even know how to stop doing it. I know I should be able to, since it’s my brain and my vocal cords, but sometimes I feel like how Stephen Hawking would feel if his speech synthesizer went rogue.

What Stephen Hawking wants to say: “Eureka! The Secret to Life, the Universe and Everything is this fabulous little molecule that I created using general relativity and time-space continuums and this miniscule quantity of dark matter that I made earlier.”

What Stephen Hawking actually says: “Fart jokes, lol”

[Also, heartfelt apologies; that’s the closest I could get to Science jargon. And yes, I watched Interstellar.]

And don’t get me started on ‘lol’. I blame this entirely on social media, but now, instead of actually laughing when someone makes a joke, I just say “lol”. I don’t laugh. Yup, I say ‘laughing out loud’ but don’t actually laugh.

[Also, this is irrelevant but ‘lol’ looks like a the head and arms of a little stick figure man doing the ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ dance, while in the process of drowning. You’ll never un-see this.]

Anyway, I think this presages the beginning of the end – people replacing actions with labels or words describing the action instead. Picture a world with people sitting around saying, “walking”, “dancing”, “eating”, “selling soul to devil, brb” etc. This is okay to an extent – actually, it’s pretty much the plotline of ‘127 hours’ – but imagine the state of professional sports.

“Sprinting super fast”
“Sprinting faster”
“Laps you, lol”
“No, you don’t!”
“TELEPORTS”

But you know what’s even worse? Not even saying the words. Which is exactly what has happened with the invention of emoticons.

Every single social media website that I am a member of is always flooded with a barrage of :), 😀 etc. Sometimes I feel obliged to use them myself. “Happy birthday. Period” sounds a little bit curt, I know, and I’m tempted to put that nose-less smiley there just to…mellow the harsh a little bit. But that’s just the easy way out – I could mellow the harsh just as well with a “…and have a great day!” But I don’t. Because I’m lazy and a colon + closed parenthesis is so much easier to type, you know. Saves me a lot of time – valuable time I could use to squeeze at least seven more ‘likes’ and three ‘lols’ into my sentences.

We’re gradually moving towards a universal language. And I’ll admit, the world does need one so that non-English speaking nations can collaborate easily on massive international projects and the like. But do you want that language to be emoji? Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon would be accompanied not by “A great leap for mankind” but by “:O #amazed”. The famous ambiguous stanzas of Frost’s poetry would be replaced by “:S” (an emoticon that I do not understand at all). Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” would become “;)” and Gandhi’s last words would be “:/ Not cool, dude”.

So this is a humble plea to humanity: Don’t let words become extinct. Because that would make me, like, really, :(.

A Portrait of the Philosopher as a Young Man

Dear Mrs. Phaenarete,
I have bad news, you see.
Your older son (the peculiar one)
Has been a source of worry.

His latest misdemeanor
Happened earlier on today,
When he refused to do an IQ test
(It was school-prescribed, by the way).

“Why not, boy?” I asked your son
And he turned to me, grinning,
“I know that I am intelligent,
Because I know that I know nothing.”

Now, I do not disagree with this,
And I appreciate his self-awareness,
But such sass is unbecoming,
And he simply couldn’t care less!

He rolls his eyes constantly,
At everything I say.
He’s called me “unintelligent”
Thirty-seven times today.

Once when I corrected his pronunciation,
He became strangely passive-aggressive –
“I would rather die speaking in my manner,
Than speak in your manner and live.”

His excuse for not knowing formulae is
“Do we really know anything, so far?”
He refers to this as his “method”
It is honestly quite bizarre.

He walks around barefoot in P.E.
He refuses to “believe” in life skills,
But what I find the strangest of all
Is his interactions with other pupils.

“Doesn’t your inner voice prevent mistakes?”
He once asked a classmate with dyslexia
I had to then sit him down and explain the difference
Between “inner voices” and dyspepsia.

When I praised his peer’s lovely artwork
He turned and scoffed at dear Trudy,
“All beautiful things become beautiful
By nothing but means of beauty.”

Once when some students were studying,
He walked up to them and said,
“Don’t worry about this; no, worry about,
The welfare of your souls instead.”

The students were young, eight or nine,
A lot of them began to cry,
They appeared to think he was threatening them,
And the complaints I received, oh my!

So Mrs. Phaenarete, take care of Socrates,
You need to have him under control.
He seems to think he’ll be a great man one day,
Ah, the poor, deluded soul!


 

Many of the quotes and incidents referred to in this poem are real (well, according to Wikipedia at least):

1. “I know that I am intelligentbecause I know that I know nothing.” – Socrates

2.  Socrates “is portrayed stalking the streets of Athens barefoot, rolling his eyes at remarks he found unintelligent, and gazing up at the clouds.” – The Trial of Socrates, Doug Linder (2002).

3. “I would rather die having spoken in my mannerthan speak in your manner and live.” – Socrates

4. Socrates devised the ‘Socratic Method’ which involves asking yourself what you know and disregarding hypotheses one by one, based on this information. Read more here.

5. “Perhaps the most interesting facet of this is Socrates’ reliance on what the Greeks called his “daemonic sign”, an averting inner voice Socrates heard only when he was about to make a mistake.” – Wikipedia entry on Socrates

6. “By means of beauty all beautiful things become beautiful. For this appears to me the safest answer to give both to myself and others; and adhering to this, I think that I shall never fall, but that it is a safe answer both for me and any one else to give — that by means of beauty beautiful things become beautiful.” – Socrates

7. “He tells them they are concerned with their families, careers, and political responsibilities when they ought to be worried about the “welfare of their souls.” – Wikipedia entry on Socrates (yes, the same one)

Let’s go crazy: Another test, please!

Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of tests.

Not the psychological diagnostic ones, obviously. They made me do those when I was a lot younger. No, I’m talking about tests at school. Maths and history and stuff.

Of course, the first sentence of this post seems to hint that I’m doing these tests out of my own free will. I suppose it is free will, in a way. Except I have been warned multiple times that, by exercising the right of freedom of choice afforded to me, I am simply paving the way for failure, abandonment, social ostracism and a career in balloon-puppet making. I like to call this ‘pseudo-freedom’.

Anyway, I’ve been forced to do all these tests and I don’t mean to blaspheme, but the fact of the matter is this: I think I rather enjoy them.

I realize that by confessing this, I am simply consolidating the already-established nerdiness that I seem to ooze from my very being. Let me attempt to explain before you start to question my sanity (though I suppose it’s too late for that).

Take a history test, for example. Your task is to write an essay on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, there are four types of students:
A. Those who have studied for the test.
B. Those who haven’t studied for the test.
C. Those who think they’ve studied for the test.
D. Those who should not be allowed to give tests because the number of teachers going into early retirement is on the rise.

Let’s not concern ourselves with Type D just yet. According to my observation though, there are fairly standardized phases that the other types go through before and during the test. (I’m omniscient, you know):

Phase 1: Is it time to study yet?

This phase comes well in advance for type A (pun intended). They (or rather, we) create schedules precise to the minute and study as if possessed. And when we can’t stick to our schedules, we start hyperventilating and we throw things at people and our parents hide sharp objects. Or maybe that’s just me.
This phase never comes for type B obviously. They may feel compelled to ask about the test syllabus, but that’s only because of the evil that is called peer pressure.
Type C encounters this phase the night before the test. 10 hours is plenty of time to study. A couple of hours watching television, a couple of hours casually turning pages of the wrong textbook and the rest sleeping with the book by your side. That’s enough revision for one test. Ten hours of studying: How much more can a person possible do?  

Phase 2: The hour draws near

As phase 2 begins, type A begins to get increasingly anxious, which is strange because they’re the only group that’s actually prepared. They sharpen their pencils and begin to calculate the probability of going completely blank in that vital hour. They then seek out type C students for comfort.
Type B, meanwhile, is grudgingly looking for a pen to steal.
Type C is definitely the most relaxed. They benevolently take it upon themselves to bestow their infinite knowledge upon the less-fortunate, a.k.a Type A.

Phase 3: It’s time

Type A has begun writing furiously, even before the test question has been assigned. Some type A students, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, may even resort to creating a slightly larger version of a stationery store on the desk before them. In fact, these hoarder tendencies are what type B students feed off. If there’s a type A student, there’s always a pen to steal.
Type C students are the most likely to stare in horror at the paper for a couple of minutes and then ask the teacher if there’s a printing error in the question. If the teacher says ‘no’, type C will nod as if they knew all along, and will then continue to watch the question paper intently for any signs of miraculous life.

mr bean

Type B students perceive the test as a subsidiary and unnecessary part of their ultimate (life) goal of stealing a pen. The thought of cheating crosses their mind, but the important question is: can they really be bothered?

Phase 4: When it’s all over

After the test, the type A students (who’ve used up two fountain pens and five complete sheets of paper) worry and fret about how bad the test was and how difficult it was to stay within the word limit. At this point, type B students are a comforting presence, especially if they ask questions like, “Are you sure that was a history test? It seemed a lot like geography to me. Cuba and all that.”
Type C students  are the most likely to complain about how stupid the question was and how annoying it was that the question was based on the one thing they didn’t study well.

So what do I enjoy about this? The entire process is a bit like an adrenaline rush (Well, it is for people like me who are too scared to sit on a roller-coaster and experience an actual adrenaline rush). Phase 1 is like getting strapped in your seat, phase 2 is the upward climb, phase 3 is the crazily fast descent and phase 4 is like getting sick at the end of the ride. It makes complete sense (if I do say so myself).

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all tests. Maths, for example. That’s simply one loop after the other. For example, I had a maths test today and halfway through I was afflicted with a sudden, temporary bout of number dyslexia. Halfway through I just answered 42 to every question in the vague hope that the Secret to Life, the Universe and Everything would feature somewhere in the test. I just felt like that’s what a Higher Power would want me to do.

So that’s the story of me and tests. It’s long and tedious and now you have enough evidence diagnose me as clinically insane.

Well, on the bright side, it might help me get out of homicide charges someday.