Getting older is something that happens naturally without any encouragement. We can’t prevent it, nor control it, though entire industries develop around trying to hide it and slow the whole process.
Growing up, however, is a completely separate issue. Some people grow up before it’s time. Others seem to never grow up. But what exactly is it that makes someone grown up?
There are actions and behaviors that a lot of people associate with growing up, like moving out on your own, paying your own bills, getting married, having kids. There are of course other things, depending on the culture of the society you are a part of. Even so, I have encountered many people who have done the “grown up” things expected of them who still admit to not feeling like a grown up.
I think the key to feeling grown up is actually recognizing when you have done something that required you to grow up in order to do it in the first place. That moment when you find yourself doing, saying or thinking something that you would have NEVER done when you were younger. Something that makes you realize just how much you have grown and matured. You know the moment. The one that made you say (in your head or out loud) ‘Did I really just do that?’
Although I have spent years doing some grown up things (e.g. paying bills) and introduced some others more recently (e.g. living alone, writing cheques), I had a grown up moment today. As I sat in conversation with an ex-friend of sorts (I don’t really think of him as much of a friend any more), I watched from inside my head as I maturely resisted the urge to make several cutting comments just for the sake of it. The kind of moments that would have, in the past, made me want to strike out to remind him how much he hurt me, passed one by one. Each time I found myself smiling quietly before responding without the bitterness and sarcasm that used to coat my conversations with him.
As I reflected on the conversation, I realized that I had just had one of those epiphanic moments. I realized that I had grown up and I didn’t have to be that hurt little girl any more. So here’s to moving on and up, waving to those left behind.