Why We Want to Grow Up to Be Nothing Like Our Parents


Why We Want to Grow Up to Be Nothing Like Our Parents

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


hen I was growing up, I was a lot like Christine in Greta Gerwig’s Ladybird. I wanted to get out of my dead-end hometown with the urgency of someone who was living life on the clock. I’d harbour and nurture strange, fanciful aspirations without bothering to reflect on whether I was equipped to realise any of them. And I was ambivalent about who I really wanted to be, conveniently masking my needless rebellion as an attempt to truly find myself. But just like Ladybird, I was unwavering about one thing: I wanted to grow up to be nothing like my parents.

At family gatherings when relatives would pinpoint that I was as introverted as my father or deduce that I must have gotten my obsession with clothes from my mother, I’d laugh it off. Instead, I’d focus on the differences: My mother’s aversion to reading compared to my packed bookshelf. Her melodious voice as compared to my tone-deafness. My father’s love for fish and my tepidness towards it. Or his inability to stay awake beyond 10 pm. I’d use these discrepancies to corroborate that my personality – and by extension, my identity – was distinct from that of my parents. That any genetic rite of passage couldn’t mould my inherent reflexes. And that any trait overlap was merely incidental.