Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Twentysomething Response 6: Being a Rolling Bowling Ball With Diminishing Parental Bumpers

"You know, I was furious!"

As I leapt through the new stream of drizzle, which only emphasized the fact that she's always, always right. At the very least, the little fall of rain provided some shelter from the storm that is my mother. It offers much needed alibi as to why I left her to walk slowly behind, amongst the fairly cluttered crowd. I sit in the cab, my mind racing, and my nail flicking away at my cuticles. We just had a conversation on the Metro North. Thought it was far from Hannah's jaw dropping realization at the beginning of Girls, it was still as bit as terrifying to fathom. 2013, as young as it is, has brought multiple tribulation for the Hannah of this play a.k.a. me.

Be careful not to fall off the Jeep, son!
A photo of me dad as wee boy with
my Oma and Opa (Dutch for Grandma
and Grandpa, respectively)
1960s in Palembang, Sumatra
Through a series of sleepless nights, ambitious projects, and sudden bouts of anxiety, I managed to embark on The Incubator, a two-sided coin that entailed business on one side and an education-based foundation on the other. Yes, the business plan is in development and the idea continues to grow, but even this Millennial needs a bit of support. Unlike my peers, I am much more reluctant to think optimistically. Instead, I rely on a series of plans that would allow me to perceive the project with a dash of optimism. Yet, still, I struggle with the thought of talking to investors, collecting the money to build this massive machinery, and succeed. Cue much needed feedback.

Am I too far off the ground, here?
Am I a looney for having these grandiose plans?
What do you think, Ma?

Surely like many Millennials, I depend on my parents for guidance even though I'm almost twenty. Blimey! In the past, they offered so much advice that I had to throw away at least a quarter of it just to maintain my sanity. Ever since I began college, my mother, especially, has stopped becoming the bumpers on my bowling lane. I thank my lucky stars that I haven't swerved off so far as to drop out or make other foolish decisions. But, deep down, I could just hear the bowling ball falling into the gutter and the hollowness that you feel inside when that does happen. Basically, I am still a child who is trailing along on the top of a wall, with one foot right in front of the other. Instead of a hand inches away from mine, ready to safe me from the hard, concrete ground, there's almost nothing to keep me safe. So, now, I am desperate for that hand. I am desperate for some guidance as to go about my life, especially when it comes to this ambitious endeavor.

Back to the taxi: I am furious and a little wet, which doesn't really help much. As I sit there I realize the ridiculous amount of metaphors I went through just to make sense of all this fear. She is letting go, as she should, to prepare me for the plunge, the climax in this roller coaster ride, the one that could lead me to boomerang back to living at home.

Wouldn't this be perfect for a Coca Cola ad?
Who's going to hold on to my bottle while I sip some soda?
Another photo of Papa and my Opa
1960s in Palembang, Sumatra
My mother and I resemble the subjects of Aquilino (2007) as well as Kloep and Hendry's (2010) studies of the parent-child relationship during the transition between adolescence and adulthood, and the parents' perceptions of their relationship with their sons and daughters during emerging adulthood, respectively. Even though she has yet to literally kick me out of the house, she has slowly retrieved her protective hand away, signaling the departure of the safety net. She is keeping her promise to raise an independent child, who will be able to stand on her own two feet majority of the time. Kloep and Hendry zoomed in on the parental perception of the relationship, when it is as salient to focus in on the children's point of view.

The world sees Millennials, one of the most if not the most prominent groups of emerging adults, as optimistic, but also protected. During our childhood, we spent the most amount of time under adult supervision. We are also hyper-aware about our past, present and future. This combination of factors could lead to a common perception shared by Millennials that we would have some trouble letting go of our parents' grasps while making the transition. At the very least, I may as well be facing this issue right now. Nevertheless, the sheer realization that she is letting go assures me that she perceives me as being prepared to take flight, most likely to success. Of course, I could possibly end as a disfigured aircraft on the side of a mountain, but, hopefully she'll be there to hear all the Maydays and see the SOS signals before that does happen. Actually, I am certain that she will be there to hear and see the signs, especially with all the technology available nowadays, cue photo of drunken self on the side of the street (just kidding!).

Aquilino, W. (1997). From adolescent to young adult: a prospective study of parent-child relations during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family. 59 (3); 670-686.

Kloep, M., Hendry, L. B. (2010). Letting go or holding on? Parents' perceptions of their relationships with their children during emerging adulthood. The British Psychological Society. 28; 817-834.

P.S. Mom, if you're reading this, look at this link and take note of some of the pointers: (Is she kidding me?)

Other sources:
1. Wikihow's pictorial take on indicators for growing up:
2. Business Insider's perspective on growing up gifted, why does it sort of apply to Millennials, who aren't necessarily gifted:
3. Ways to grow up when you don't want to from Thought Catalogue (take this with a grain of salt, please):

Comments on the photos: I felt a tinge of guilt as I wrote this piece, fortunately I found some adowwwable photos of Dad.

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