Thursday, March 27, 2014

Growing Up

When I was young, I couldn't wait to grow up. I think that's how we all were. There was something so magical about being an adult, or so we thought. From the youngest of ages, we're playing "house"; pretending to have spouses and kids and jobs. We were putting on Mom's makeup and high heels and pearls and dreaming of the time when we could be free to do whatever we want. Grown ups just seemed to have it all- never being told what to do and staying up as late as they want. They seemed to have the BEST life. 

As kids, from the start people are asking you "what do you want to be when you grow up?" and the question is so exciting to think about, because jobs looked like SO MUCH FUN. When I was five or six and being asked that in kindergarten and 1st grade, I always said I wanted to be a figure skater, a gymnast, and a lifeguard. Yup. All three. There wasn't a doubt in my mind I wouldn't be able to have everything my heart desired. I got a little older and I decided I would play soccer professionally and travel to world to different stadiums doing the thing I loved most in life. Never any doubts. As kids we're so sure of our futures.

We had everything figured out because MASH told us so. We'd have 5 kids and be married at 19 years old, drive a nice car, live in house with a white picket fence and be doctors or dancers or heck, even lifeguards if that's what we wanted! Everything was painfully simple and we just knew life would be at it's grandest once we "grew up". Our dreams changed as we got older and in high school nothing seemed greater than having your drivers license and a car. Finally you were free to live life! College seemed like the most wonderful thing in the world and soon enough you'd land your perfect dream job because hey, why not! We were in such a hurry to grow up, which makes you think that sometimes you didn't make the most of it.

Ever hear the old adage "Youth is wasted on the young"? Well, we never really understood that until we were old enough and it was too late. You're an adult now, with adult responsibilities and adult jobs and adult bills! Nothing in your life feels as whimsical as it did when you were young. It's not bad, per say, but it definitely isn't the grandiose picture you had in mind when wishing upon those stars. Now we definitely understand why Peter Pan never wanted to grow up. We always thought we'd get our freedom when we were adults but as it turns out, the only time we were free was when we were kids!  Now were imprisoned by jobs, finances, schooling, and adult responsibilities.  

But growing up isn't always bad, as long as we maintain some of our childlike qualities. Still, a level of "grown-up-ness" is required for survival in our lives. At twenty-five years old, I'm still learning these things- learning which parts I change and which parts I work at to stay the same. No one every told me as a kid that I'd LONG for the days of being a child, though if they did, I wouldn't have believed them anyways. That's one of the great things about being young- you're always so sure of  yourself and life and everything. There are some really great things about being an adult, like you set your own schedule, make your own choices, you can travel with your friends and can "call in sick" without needing a doctors note! Wonderful, wonderful things! But there's also some really hard parts about growing up... 

For instance:

1. Budgeting sucks until you nail down what works for you...when you're younger and just first handling your own finances, it seems like you have endless amounts of money! But those are called credit cards and while you might have access to what feels like endless amounts of money, you eventually have to pay it back, with INTEREST. Turns out you just have the ability to get into endless amount of debt!

2. You once thought you'd have so much freedom...until you realize that growing up means things like a car payment, rent, student loans, credit cards, phones, utilities, gas/food money all depend upon a stable income...which requires us to work stable (and long!) hours. Goodbye freedom!

3. Grown up relationships are hard. I'm not just talking about romantic relationships, but friendships too. As we get older, we have less time and energy to devote to things/people in our lives. We start to have to be choosey about who we're spending our time with because there's not a lot of it. So our group of friends get smaller and smaller and that's really difficult. Sometimes it's not even our choice, as we grow up, we sometimes grow apart from people who used to be so central in our lives. I think that's the hardest part- not having a choice at who still wants you in their life. But making relationships successful takes hard work too- it requires us to be more open and honest and diligent to make it work. It requires us to voice our feelings and confront the things that bother us, even if it's uncomfortable and difficult. Adult relationships require a lot of effort from both parties to remain successful! 

4. Growing up requires you to take responsibility of your life. You're the master of your own destiny! Committing to a major or a job or a new city or new venture takes guts!! E.E. Cummings wrote that "it takes courage to grow up and become who we really are" and I agree with that 100%. Following your dreams, putting yourself out there, and making goals are sometimes terrifying! It requires us to be brave, relentless, and believe in ourselves, which doesn't always come naturally. 

5. And lastly, growing up means moving on...that could be from  relationships or dreams or ideals, or any number of things. But moving on is difficult. Sometimes it takes us a long time to realize what's good for us and what's not. And then to have the courage to leave it behind you and move forward...I think this is something we'll probably struggle with at many points in our lives. 

It's important to grow up but it's also important with some things to embrace your inner child, the trick is knowing when it's appropriate and when it's not. We unfortunately don't have the option of  going back in time or staying young forever, so we have to grow up at some point.  But one thing's for sure, Peter Pan was definitely onto something.          

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