Remember when we were little kids and how we’d spend hours fantasizing about how much fun life will be when we grow up? We envisioned that our lives would be filled with adventure, love that lasts forever, and there was no doubt in our minds that we would grow up to be exactly what we wanted. We were too small to be able to reach our juice box on the kitchen counter and our parents dictated EVERYTHING to us, but none of our restrictions kept us from believing that we would someday rule the world! We had no solid evidence that we were even capable of living the life we wanted. All we had was the belief that we would not always be kids and that we wouldn’t stop trying to be independent… even after every failure. One day we would no longer be restricted. One day WE would be able to choose who we wanted to be… and we would be it. WE would choose where we wanted to go… and we would go there.
Take a moment to obverse your life as it is right now. Are you living with this feeling of being restricted in life? Feeling dictated to by the world? Feeling like your “juice box” is too far out of your reach? The kid version of you would have gotten frustrated, yes… but they would have reminded themselves that it won’t always be this way… and they would keep trying… even through all the failures. We as kids fought so hard to become grown-ups, but when so many of us finally got to the coveted position in life, we stopped fighting for the life that we still had ahead of us.
As kids we were trying to grow up quickly because we didn’t want to be treated like little kids.
As adolescents we were constantly struggling with having one foot in immaturity and one foot in an adult world that we thought we were ready for, but had no clue about.
At 18 we sprint towards independence because we legally can. Regardless of if we can handle it or not, we won’t let anyone see us scared.
At 21 we think we’ve reached nirvana because we can get alcohol legit and go to all the bars where real “adults” hang out. We drink our way through decisions.
Somewhere between 22 and 26, depending on if and how long you went to school for, you then have to prove yourself as an educated adult by entering the workforce. You nail a job and now you’ve arrived! You buy a suit, some new shoes, and shots for everybody… on credit… because to be an adult you have to look like one, right?
If you’re like many Americans, between the ages of 22 and 26 (28 if you’re a late bloomer!) you marry and have your first child. You try to become the all-star parent who gives their 1 year old a Disney lifestyle everyday, because they won’t remember it… wait… they won’t remember it??
From this point on you work and live to prove to others that you’re living the American dream! You’re a stellar parent… but not too perfect… hip, current, with a splash of DIY originality. You have a home that Pinterest dreams are made of, and according to your FB statuses your hubby is AMAZING… everyday. You have reached the “Grown up” life. What now?
Okay so maybe your life looks (or looked) nothing like the descriptions I detailed. That is neither here nor there. The point that I’m trying to make is that potentially we could spend most of our lives trying to not only grow up, but to grow out of the place that we were presently at. We spend our energy functioning in the present while our minds and hearts are living in the future… but the future isn’t for living! Living is meant to be for right NOW…. because NOW life is happening… NOW is what you can affect… and NOW is when you can begin to initiate change that will affect the future. Many people have went through different periods in their lives, and yet they can’t really identify with them because they don’t even feel any attachment to them… and in some cases they don’t even remember them! I’m not talking about periods of time that were blocked out because of trauma; I’m talking about pretty normal nothing-too-crazy periods in life. Maybe it’s all of high school, or all of your first marriage. It could be your kid’s teenage years, or all of collage (separate from your party days!). Whatever it was, there are those that were so focused on growing up, or just making it out of high school, or until they were 21 , or until they had a great job, or until they got married…. YOU GET THE POINT. Everyone is just too busy growing up to grow into who they are right NOW. The tragedy is that we then end up missing out on so much magic that is happening around us… in us… we don’t get to see and experience our own evolution because we are too busy planning a future that we are not yet an active part of.
I speak from experience. Not judgment. When I say “We” I mean “Me”.
I am going to be 31 in a few months and I can honestly tell you that there are periods of my life… chunks… that I recall as if I’m telling a story that I had heard from a friend about a friend… but not about me. I feel disconnected from my childhood and from my adolescents… all the way up to my early 20s. I know they happened… I mean, obviously! I know that there were good times and bad, of which I can tell you some specifics. I cannot tell you much about myself as a child or as a teen, because I can’t really identify with that part of my life. It’s as if I go into this dream sequence when I try to think back. It’s weird. It can be downright uncomfortable and awkward. I mean, who doesn’t know who they were as a kid or a teen?!?! What I do know is that I had struggled for years with this feeling that there was something wrong with me now as an adult, as a result of my detachment from my earlier years… like I couldn’t possible come to know who I am if I don’t know who I was.
I came to a place in my adult life where I had to decide who I was going to be. Was I going to be someone who kept looking back, scratching my head, trying to create a future from a past that I couldn’t change even if I did remember? Or was I going to keep looking forward and focus on a future that would be worth remembering someday? I chose neither…. Because the one thing that I could tell has been constant in my life is that I have always been either running to something or from something. At age 30 I finally understood that the concept of “Growing up” as we’ve known it to be is highly overrated.
I may not be able to re-do the past, or recreate my childhood, or recall all the details about my teen years. I can’t tell you about how I felt during various special moments that I know happened or tell you with certainty what kind of friend I was in high school. What I can do is create new habits, and un-teach myself old lessons that no longer serve a purpose in who I am today…. I’m growing down. I can stop running from or to something. I can stop trying to prove my independence or adulthood to anyone. I’ve done my growing… I’m 30 years old… I’m an adult. Everything from here on is not new growth… it’s evolution… expansion… progress.
Being a grown up is not a thing, a place, a degree, a certain level of income, or even the act of getting married (As made apparent by the high divorce rate). Being a grown up is about having the balls to say what you believe in the midst of unbelievers… and being able to shrug if they’re not on board with you, without letting it disturb your sense of peace. Being a grown up is choosing to forgive with or without an apology. Being a grown up is about using “I would never do that” very loosely… because we’ve learned that lack of personal experience with certain situations doesn’t afford us the pleasure of certainty for what kind of decision we’d make had it been us. Being a grown up means saying “I don’t know” when you don’t know… because with our finite minds, we really don’t know much. Being a grown up means that there isn’t a price tag attached to “I love you”… yours are free… Even to the one-toothed man that picked up a quarter that dropped out of your wallet for you at the grocery store… just when you were thinking “Ugh, really?!?! I have all these bags in my hands and it’ll be a pain to stoop down to pick it up… but it’s A QUARTER and I think I need one more for laundry. I’ll be so glad when I don’t have to pay for laundry ever again.” Yes, you say “I love you” to even him… and his one-toothed grin made you think “I really do”.
I’m growing down.
Yours Truly, Andrea