I have this memory growing up of my babysitter and I playing softball together. She played for her university’s college team, I played for the local travel softball league. As a ten year old, you look at people in college and you don’t realize that they are only in college. In your ten year old mind, that person is an adult.
Now, in that ten year old’s mind, I am the adult. Young people look at me and think “yup, adult.” Their lines of thinking are simple; they don’t look at me and think “mom age” - at least I hope they don’t quite yet. But it’s clear cut that I am no longer a child or even a young adult.
Growing up is realizing that you don’t need to be taken care of, and while we all love being pampered and made to feel special, we’re now in the role of care taking. Growing up means applying for credit cards, finding a job, and more importantly seeking out your purpose and finding meaning. While you may not want to cook when your mom visits, your not a child anymore and are capable of doing things.
I am currently in my last month of living at home before I move and start work. Unlike a lot of people my age, I get along surprisingly well with my parents. Further, my dad had health issues earlier in the year that served as a family reminder of importance of gratitude, compassion, and love for another. My friends here that I’ve been living at home for a few months and exclaim, “I don’t know how you do it!”. But when your parents are your allies, your supporters, the people that have always been there for you - how don’t you do it?
Growing up is realizing that time isn’t plentiful, and what feels like it will last forever can fly by in the blink of an eye. I cherished my final year of college, only to look back on May 12th, 2017 and wonder where the hell the time went. I’m feeling that way again now as I wonder where the four months have gone since I drove home from Nashville. It’s been scientifically proven that time moves faster as we age (or how we experience time), so it makes sense why I feel this way. But a part of growing up is accepting endings for what they are, recognizing the beauty in what was, perhaps feeling a bit nostalgic or sad, and charging forward nonetheless.
When you’re young, you don’t have a lot of endings, and if you do they typically aren’t defining moments in life. The first real “end” I felt was high school, but to be honest I was ready for it to end. I was eager to go to college and grow, experience new things, and develop my adult self. Now, I’m at the age where endings are bittersweet - I knew I was ready to graduate college but I wasn’t ready to leave my friends and my campus. I’m ready to end my time at home because it means starting an exciting and promising career, but I’m not quite ready to leave the comfort of my hometown and my parents.
Growing up is realizing that you have to be the one to hold your own hand. As we drift away from our roots, we face the world on our own. I am not discounting the value of support networks, as I’ve learned that they are quite literally vital to our survival (google it if you don’t believe me). What I am saying is that you have to be your own advocate in times of conflict, when you need self-care, and for your future. There are no parents, teachers, or siblings to be by your side all the time. You have to take care of yourself, know who you are, and know your direction.
I realize my sentiments may sound a tad dramatic, as anyone my parents age would look and say “She’s only 22, she has a lifetime ahead of her!” I think perhaps my words come from a place of fear of the unknown and desire to forge a path where I won’t look back in 40 years and regret my choices. I realize that the decisions I make in my twenties will continue to define my for the rest of my life - who I marry, where I start my career, etc. It feels sometimes like there is pressure to always make the right decision, but I’m learning that decisions aren’t always black and white but somewhere in the middle.
Growing up is scary but empowering. It’s taking responsibility for yourself and maybe those around you, but it’s exciting to control your destiny. Perhaps this post has taken on a melancholy tone, but I recognize that I have no choice but to grow up so I might as well embrace it. Trust me, I know there are amazing benefits to no longer being a child - feeling like people listen to your voice, having power to do what you want, and gaining new experiences.
What does it feel like to grow up? Picture every emotion on the emotional spectrum, and that’s your answer.