Fear of growing up

The sound of children playing echoed from far away. The yellowed book in his hand was wide open under the curiosity of a very small child, standing only almost as high as a scooter. The afternoon wind carried the chatter of the little boy sitting behind his mother deep into a region of fading memories that was hard to touch…


He misclicked a “slide”, turned off the automatic movie in his head, then returned to the technical room, where he was keeping an eye on each word echoing from the headset, whose pronunciation was sometimes a bit shaky when spoken. Regaining his mind, he watched the entire presentation from the technical booth behind a group of people in formal “vests” and shirts. Sometimes, he couldn’t believe he was here, in this room in this building, doing work that was so adult – at least so fast. He still remembers the lines on his grandmother’s forehead, but that memory is not as realistic as what is here. Similar lines appear and disappear between the foreheads of different people. They stood up, sat down, walked back and forth, talking to each other after enthusiastic handshakes in neat suits and tight belts. He sat there looking at this familiar scene for a while then squinted his right eye. His eyes hurt from looking at computer screens for too long, which fit perfectly with the glasses he grabbed that were right on the table. He stood up and joined the crowd.

One thing that he saw today was unusually clear: whoever was passing by him was once a child, and he seemed to imagine what each person’s child looked like. Some were playfully chirping with a few friends at the same time, some were walking around carefree, one was pensive and always stood and sat with his back straight, eyes ahead, and one was bewildered looking around for some familiar figure that it doesn’t even know. When they grow up, who are they? A lively young man in the crowd, a quiet lady who always appears calm, an elderly young man with a clear voice, a reserved girl with bright eyes hiding behind thick glasses. At first glance, no one knew that the young man was still feeling sorry for himself when he was alone. In the young lady’s heart, there was always a bit of insecurity and suffocation. The young man had to be strong for so long that no one knew. And having somebody to understand her one day is the only great wish of a girl who just turned twenty with many ambitions. The young lady and the young man now think less about their own inner children. But as for the boy and girl, because they just finished being children not long ago, sometimes they still dream of that child inside them as a consolation they seek out when they are overwhelmed by the fear of growing up, fear of losing a small version of yourself.


Who knows what those children went through, just know that life changed them in ways that even they could not have foreseen. Even though they come from different backgrounds, they are all here in the same room now, still holding an inner child in their hearts. From here, they are parting ways again, continue through adulthood and stop at other rooms. Their lives are strung together by a series of rooms that they will walk through, with some hope that someone will remember them.


He heard his name being called – the next session was about to begin. That is it. Then he stopped thinking, his front and back legs started up again. But as soon as he left, he suddenly wanted to end that line of dreaming with something so he could come back to it later. Then a stream of vitality suddenly surged throughout his body, making him tremble – a new realization. “Thank you for being here” – he blurted out, but his whisper was sent into the void, drowned out by the sound of the loudspeaker inviting the stream of people to return to the next session he undertook. He must grow up, because the responsibility now lies in him.

“Writing about the human experience” is where I observe and write down the stories of people I know, have met, or have been, thereby helping me and others slow down to look at life with the depth it deserves.

Hoàng Trần

Tran Dinh Le Hoang is a third-year student at Vin University majoring in Business Administration, and a member of the Just Energy Transition Research Team of the Youth4Climate Policy Working Group. Since high school, Hoang began practicing a green lifestyle for himself and has carried out environmental and climate projects until now.