How to firmly grasp ‘growing up’.

So…there seems to be a running theme for this month as well. It’s a little throw back to some good old posts. I hope you still find them – like this one, as relevant as I find them.

If you are honest with yourself, there was a time when you looked forward to growing up. How’s that going for you? The growing up that is, not the looking forward. And unfortunately, or fortunately for some, we must grow up. There is no way to avoid it (unless science discovers an anti-aging serum to give us an experience like Benjamin Button – then we’ll be seeking to figure out how to grasp ‘growing young’).

There are so many ideas wrapped up within that sure course of growing up! And I can’t help but remember some of mine; well placed with a time line as well. Only to find that growing up is nothing like it had seemed. You grow up to lose your opportunity for afternoon naps (I shouldn’t complain though, I get in my mandatory sleep hours then some), to bear all society’s expectation without excuse (because back then they could at least say ‘they are young’) and to finally face the uncertainty of life most adults are plagued with (you are now fully responsible for yourself).

I find that in life we rotate around a quartet of questions for our mental well-being; the ‘why me’ series that usually creep up when in distress, the search for purpose ‘what am I here for’, the discovery of self ‘who am I’ and the desire for influence and impact, ‘do I matter‘. There must be a lot more that cost us our sleep and peace of mind. But these seem to hit the core of us all and I thought I could lend my meager experience and continual learning to some of these.

Allow me to delve into those four questions a little!

The security of contentment. In Phillipians 4, Paul writes and says he had learnt to be content in every situation. Do you ever read that and huff and puff and think he probably never went through whatever you are going through? We know all the clichés, ‘we are different’, ‘we have different paths’ but the truths are hard to remember when you are in the thick of things. The fertiliser for contentment (yes we are growing everything here today) is gratitude and its death…comparison. So maybe a gratitude list is worth all its hype or a mantra that reminds you of your own achievements. In a world ripe with unfair situations, contentment will help save some adult heartache.

The discipline of ambition. Forgetting what’s past and pushing on to the goal set ahead- that’s how Paul sought to deal with ambition. We must all aspire to something! We should dream! because we need something that pushes us out of bed everyday. When the world is crushing down on us (as it might from time to time) you need to remember your purpose. And purpose comes in the doing. Brain-turning, people-reaching doing. But it’s not all about a dream, it’s in the pushing past all the obstacles that will rise up as you go on. This is how you figure out what you are here for.

The conviction of individuality. You are you, and again this must be something you’ve heard a million times. But no one can be a better you than you. Except that we can have a dream and fail to follow through because we believe it was done before or done better. I read ‘Girl Code’ by Cara Alwill Leyba a few months ago and I liked her argument that there is plenty of room for all of us to succeed (if we work at it), that one person’s success is not proof of your own failure. So it’s been done before, but not like what you would have done. It’s been written before, but not in your wording. It’s been sang before but not with your voice…you get the point. There is nothing new under the sun as Ecclesiastes happily tells us. Yet to balance it out there has never been nor will ever be a you like you are today.

The force of support systems. Much as we all claim we don’t want to be ruled by what the world thinks, we always find ourselves desperately looking for validation for the things we’ve done. That’s where support systems come in; your family and friends. The people who have the words to make us or break us wholly. The people to whom we are someone not just anyone, to whom we should matter. At the end of the day we want to know our existence makes a difference to a set of people. And it does, the problem is that most of the time we seek to gain other approval instead of embracing the one we have and grounding those relationships. Like what Gus said of Hazel in the Fault In Our Stars, that she may not have been loved widely, but she was loved deeply and isn’t that more than what some people get?

At the end of the day, this is the question we truly want to ask and answer.

But what do I know about growing up?!! I am hardly 27 years. I’m not close to that for a little while even though I find myself a little fed up of adulthood some days. OK, most days. So this writing is more of a reminder and encouragement on what to do when I feel stuck. I hope it helps you a little too as we tackle the mysterious aspect of ‘growing up’.