Perhaps the hardest thing we have to learn in life is how to grow up. Everything that happens to us is about growing up, one way or another. How we deal with grief, how we deal with conflict, how we overcome obstacles and learn from mistakes. How we celebrate, how we offer support, how we learn to conduct the necessary things we require in life (like not flooding the laundry room or learning to cook without setting the house on fire).
Growing up is the one thing no one can prepare you for. In some ways, no one tells you how to grow up. That feeling must be the origin of the lyric, “So, no one told you life was gonna to be this way” in the Friends theme song. You don’t know. So, you just do. You do everything you can and hope you’re handling it like an adult. No one’s perfect. Honestly, I think it’s boring to be a grown-up all the time. Not to mention, draining. No wonder people cherish their inner child. They need that to help them function, to put things in perspective and to remember the positive things in life—especially during the hard times. Otherwise, we’d all burn out. Or at least fade away.
Everyone grows up differently. Everyone has their own list of experiences, their own priorities and goals and hopes and dreams. Just like no one is the same, so are the methods of growing up. It depends on experience and the perspective and attitude a person takes towards it. Do they get stuck, or do they walk away? We get a choice in how and when we grow up, because growing up in itself is a choice. Maybe you’re not ready, but you can try. All you can do is try. Everything else comes after that.
I personally believe you grow up in different categories in different ways. I was a teenager when I grew up in the sector regarding financial instability. I would look at something I wanted and ask myself, Is this something I absolutely have to have or is it going to Goodwill in two years? I agonized over whatever I was buying. And I learned quickly that I was overdoing it. I reversed my grown-up thinking in this sense, learning that sometimes life is too short and you just need to buy what you want—without going overboard, of course.
I was young when I learned to put aside my own feelings for others. It came in the form of grief. People I loved had lost someone close to them, and I was still in elementary school when I hugged them, reassuring them as best as I could, only wanting to ease their pain. This is one of the greatest grown-up lessons I could’ve ever learned—being there for someone, especially in their hardest moment.
There is no right or wrong way to grow up. There should never be pressure to grow up in a split second, but sometimes we are faced with those sudden decisions that force us to make grown-up choices, and we’re never the same afterwards. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Sometimes it prepares us for the next choice, difficult or not.
Growing up doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself—growing up means finding yourself. It’s about knowing you have people to support you, but also having the confidence and faith and believe in yourself. To stand on your own two feet. It’s about conquering obstacles and creating your own destiny. It’s about envisioning and creating the life you want, putting in the hours and hard work to make it happen. It’s sometimes about defying reality and telling yourself that what you want isn’t impossible. It’s about indulging in fantasies until it’s time to come back. It’s about living and learning, forgiving yourself for the mistakes, healing old wounds and growing up at your own pace. You’ll grow into the person you want to be.
“Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.” – Nina Dobrev
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