I have a conflict. I am trying to grow up while not fully understanding what that term means. What is a “grown up”? And how is that different from an “attempting grown up” or a “young adult” or a “late teenager”? Growing up is somewhat like describing the color green: all who can see the color know what it is, but being able to put that color, a natural non-word element of life, into words is quite a challenge. How do you describe colors to someone who has never seen more than black and white? Or who has never even seen light?
I could take the easy way, and say that growing up means you reach a certain age. In most countries, this is (at the most) 21. But I know that age does not equal wisdom. There are some very smart seven-year-olds and some very stupid thirty-seven-year-olds out there. There must be something more besides physical maturation. Sure, we can say that one gets older because they are more emotionally complex, but what does that mean? How can that be measured? The problem is that it really cannot be measured. To add some hope, I am trying to come up with a checklist.
–Is involved not only in helping their own matters, but helping those around them.
–Is able to pay all of their utilities on time.
–Can be, and is, financially responsible.
–Does not perform random dances in the middle of the street.
–Keeps emotions to a reasonable degree and does not let these emotions become responsible for risk-taking, dangerous behavior or decisions.
–Has stopped drunk-dialing their friends.
–Considered/is considering long-term relationships with romantic partners.
–Knows how to act in a professional manner and uses this type of behavior for most settings.
However, the problem with this check-list is that it assumes that growing up is the end goal and, perhaps more dangerous of an idea, that this goal is reachable. I do not belong to the people who think this way. To some, growing up is like driving cross-country with limited gas: in the end, you either make it to your destination promptly, or you run out of gas, break down, get stuck, and stay that way forever. For me, growing up is a lifelong journey, a road that forever gets traveled on. Sometimes people do well, sometimes they fail, but always they are headed in some direction. This journey does not stop until our lives do. And, really, if growing up means having to resort to some checklist of social conformity and never exploring life outside of such boundaries, I never want to grow up.
Where are you on the journey of growing up?
*Photo courtesy of blogs.babycenter.com.