Drifting Into Adulthood

I grew up in a slightly odd childhood, one of the younger of six siblings, and sometime after my mother had exhausted all sense of wonder at the birth of a new child. Dealing efficiently with the demands of a new baby or mouth to feed with a minimum of impact on routine was at the heart of her approach.

As a consequence the household had  the atmosphere of a holding area at some welfare assessment centre: largely indifferent to the mood of its inmates  with random and spontaneous periods of cruelty depending on the whimsy of elder siblings whose actions, no doubt, were a response to the general emotional bleakness.

The reason this matters, apart from a lack of toys and sweets of course, is that when I left my childhood I departed as one who has walked out of a prison after a long sentence with very little idea of self or understanding of the mechanics of the  outside world . During my teens avoiding  reality  by daydreaming or reading had been my only available survival technique.

Like all of us, my entrance into the world left me with advantageous disadvantages. It gave me the perspective of being an outsider who had little knowledge of ordinary family life or being cherished and fuelled with a sense of purpose, but it also left me,  rootless, imaginative and with an unexpressed sense of life’s mystery.

Faced with the question, “Would you rather be an astronaut or a librarian I might reply, “Look at the way the light is hitting the water over there. It’s almost luminous”. The observation might be accurate but was not fundamentally career enhancing.

It takes a long time to grow out of being odd. Perhaps more than a lifetime. It’s a project I intend to start on fairly soon.  It demonstrates that you can never predict the benefits hidden within any experience. It reminds me that self-pity is seldom a useful pre-occupation, and if you wish to explore it, it is best done on your own.  It leaves me vunerable to, and slightly baffled by, any displays of tenderness shown towards me.

I am wary of how those who are in positions of power use and exploit their position.  It makes me value the joy of people who cherish each other without thought of personal glory or advancement. It taught me that the damage done to us can often become a portal to a greater understanding of, and empathy with, the world around us. Bitterness is not the only response available to the unfortunate, and without wishing to be harsh, can smack of self- indulgence . And lastly I ask myself if writing is the last resort of the socially awkward ? Answers please to an address of your choice, or in the box below.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
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26 Responses to Drifting Into Adulthood

  1. Ina says:

    What a great write again 🙂 Sorry about your childhood, that was not a good time for you. As an only child (with plenty toys for those days) I still wonder what life would have been like with siblings. (My “sister” on fb is a sister in law I only met once lol. ) Reading this makes me be grateful I don’t have any. And for being odd and writing: yes. The last resort. It is this or a knitting club. 🙂 Please stay socially awkward! x


  2. catterel says:

    “The child is father of the man …” but the adolescent is still the in-between, or even the midwife, delivering an adult capable of surviving and flourishing in his or her environment. Sorry for the rather mixed metaphor there. Learning to give and receive love is best done as a child, though.


  3. cyberian says:

    Chap I knew once, was discovered taking notes at a works outing and had to flee the mob. Sound familiar? Artists are like martyrs, except that their fate is being misunderstood.


  4. catterel says:

    That went before I’d finished. I believe the “socially awkward” write for a Platonic ideal, the sister-soul who probably doesn’t exist but would understand us empathically without any obstacle. And most great writers and artists have had some sort of miserable childhood – so it sees to be some kind of advantage in the end.


  5. dmauldin53 says:

    I think writing is a good way to work it all out, not a last resort. It has helped me immensely. I have social anxiety, and had much rather stay home and read or write. Most of us, in one way or another, have issues with our childhood, and our lives. I started journaling and one day it just hit me; “I’ve got tales to tell”. Love and Hugs 🙂


  6. blah blah blonde says:

    I would have to answer “yes”. Like yours, my childhood was not one that made me feel particularly well-prepared for life, or well-liked for who I was in general. Though I have become more social since leaving home, I remain a more solitary sort and often prefer the company of a book or my keyboard above the company of people.


  7. aawwa says:

    You have a wonderful way of saying things! As the youngest of five children, a mother who worked shift work and a Dad who rarely spoke to me, I felt a lot of empathy with your experience. I don’t write much about my childhood – I had a revelation a couple of years ago that made sense of a lot of confusion. One day I will write about it (maybe using another name :-)). Thanks for sharing your experience.


  8. I’d encourage you to never “grow out of being odd.” Seeing the world “differently” and answering career-related questions in unorthodox ways sets the stage for making real impacts in the world, rather than being used as part of the machine. It’s lonely to be “odd” and certainly uncomfortable, but I’ve found it also to be my greatest attribute, when I allow myself to accept it. And darned if I’ve found ANYone with a perfect childhood. Some better than others? Absolutely. But perfection is unattainable. We’re all “odd” in our own ways.


  9. Al says:

    The only thing odd or awkward about your situation, ducks, is why a person who can write like you isn’t published!


  10. If being odd means one learns to look back at a difficult period with the kind of grace that you have and somehow see something positive in it, like you have, then I hope the whole world turns odd. Odd for President!


  11. babs50nfab says:

    This was beautiful Peter. I have to say a resounding ‘yes’ to writing about it. For me it has been enlightening to learn my stories have helped others sort out their own demons. There are no perfect families. After many years thinking my family were the fruitcakes and my husband’s family was ‘normal’ I discovered they were just as screwed up (if not more) than my family. They just kept it under the radar. It’s important, I think, to share the abnormalities so others can see they aren’t alone.
    You’ve done that beautifully here!


  12. nelle says:

    I have to giggle over ‘it takes a long time to grow out of being odd’.
    Perspective is everything. To the six year old me my dad declared ‘sick’, that judgement seemed pretty definitive and final. Not until my four decades passed did I realise it was errant, and when the walls built up all around that judgement began to crumble, it wasn’t just the walls that fell.


  13. Shonnie says:

    Duckster … since I am odd myself … I would have to say writing is a wonderful outlet of the odd. It is a way to connect with the world in which we live, breath, and have our being, but know not how to connect with them in the deep level we long for. A real, honest, and open level that so many strive so hard to avoid. Alas, I suppose we must enjoy those we manage to connect with, and not think to long on those we cannot.

    As always, I enjoyed your thought provoking post. 😀


  14. I don’t think you are odd at all – at least, only as odd as the next person being introspective. This post feels vulnerable and insightful…Another favourite for me x


  15. —-Peter,
    you are oddly, splendidly, fabulously, uniquely wonderful.
    Need I say more?
    PS. writers feel more than others, think deeply, love abundantly, & isolate themselves in many ways.

    If this is odd, I guess I am quite odd.

    Xxxxx LOVE from MN.


  16. CeeLee says:

    I’m so glad to have found your blog,
    thanks to LaFemme Roar for recommending you to me!
    I really like reading you.
    I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award.
    You can find the details here http://wp.me/p2MHY5-nl


  17. That’s really kind of you. It’s greatly appreciated


  18. Writerlious says:

    Who needs to grow out of being odd? Embrace your inner oddness. I think writers and artists and all creative people just see the world a bit differently, or notice little things (like the light hitting the water), and sometimes tune out to be in their heads. Wear it like a badge, my friend! I’m just sorry your family wasn’t more supportive of your creativity and your differences. I have one parent that always supported my creative whimsy and another who never really seemed to understand (and still doesn’t —I’m in my 30’s).


  19. Lady E says:

    To be honest, I think everyone is a little bit odd at least. Some more than others, but still… However, not everyone can write as beautifully as you. 🙂


  20. “It taught me that the damage done to us can often become a portal to a greater understanding of, and empathy with, the world around us.” Wow. Some powerful insights! Thank you for this.


  21. renxkyoko says:

    “Writing is the last resort of the socially awkward.” Some people tell me I’m a vivacious, friendly person, who can be with anyone, whatever their status in life. The truth is, I’m terribly awkward, and I just want to be alone, and socializing to me is tiring, because i have to pretend to be a person that I’m not.


  22. If you are odd then I like odd! Please don’t change. 🙂

    This is a wonderful post and very sad too. I cannot empathise because I had a totally different childhood with 2 sisters and parents with all the time in the world for us. However, they were years where, although loved we were not taught to show it, no hugging or anything.like that and for heavens sake don’t have period pains, thats just weak…. Until my father had nursed our mother through dementia and he began to fail himself then he changed! I have never across anyone more compassionate and demonstrative. Strange but lovely.


  23. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    “exhausted all sense of wonder” – ha, you made me laugh! I guess you would at six.

    Wow, I hadn’t read as much of you before, didn’t realise where you “came from” so to speak. I can so much relate to leaving your house of raising as if you’ve just left jail.

    I would rather though, you never grow out of being odd. Odd is delightful, alive.


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