Monday, May 26, 2014

what does "grown up" really mean?

I always wondered what it would feel like to be a grown up...what it would be like to be out there, self-sufficient and adventurous.

There are many questions to ponder the idea of adulthood when you think about it. What defines a grown up? Is it graduating from high school/college? Turning 18 or 21? Getting married? Voting? Having a career? Having the ability to travel? Buying a house? Having kids? Having grand-kids?

I think this is one of the conundrums 20 and 30-somethings often feel. We leave school and our teen years, and we start the search to find ourselves. We search for meaning. We search for purpose. We search for careers and lifestyle changes and a chance to figure out what we believe. While searching for and chasing these things, time passes much more quickly than we realize. We wake up and realize that years have passed and we're getting old.

Birthdays, for me at least, seem to bring a moment of reflection. I look at myself and my peers and wonder how we got to where we are. When did we finally become grown up?

Since becoming an adult (and by adult, I mean the agreed-upon American age of adulthood), I feel like I've done a lot. I worked and studied hard and graduated from college. I had roommates. I got married. I started a career I was passionate about. I lived in several cities, states, and even countries. I had a pet. I taught and mentored hundreds of young people and even some adults. I studied (though I haven't quite mastered) other languages. I traveled and met new people and owned my own business. I took pictures and I wrote blogs.

Despite all that, I still don't quite feel like a grown up. I don't feel like I have it all together. In fact, I look at my parents and in-laws and other well-grounded adults in my life and realize that sometimes I feel like a complete mess.

Talking to other peers, it seems that many of them don't feel grown up either. Mind you, these are adults. Adults who are responsible and well-educated, married, and/or have children and families of their own. But they still don't feel grown up.

I wonder if we ever will. Will we look down on our grand-kids someday and finally feel like we've reached that sense of adulthood? When we retire from the careers we worked hard at for 30+ years? When we celebrate 25 or 50 years of marriage? When we notice the wrinkles on our hands and faces? When we look back at our memories? Will it just hit us one day, like a truck, out of the blue?

Or...maybe it's okay to not feel like a grown up yet and to realize that there's plenty left awaiting us. That we're still changing and we may never find ourselves for the singular reason that we are always changing and evolving and adapting.

Another year has passed and I still don't have the answers to these questions. I wonder if I ever will. Maybe that will be the moment I finally feel I've finally grown up.

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