With completion of another full year of life experience, skin aging and other fun happenings, I could not help but sit down and philosophize about growing up. One more year to go and I will have achieved another full decade on this planet. When I think back of myself in a smaller version, I probably always had this age-mark as a very specific one in mind – it does sound really grown-up, doesn’t it? By that time (and I was sure about it) I would feel and think and act like a fully grown adult.
Well – what does that even mean? What is being “grown-up”? Cleaning your own place and laundry, maybe – then I was a grown-up with 12 already. Cooking your own meals like a pro – well, I am waiting for that day to come yet. When you don’t need help of others anymore, and you are independent, financially and otherwise, are you a grown-up then? What about those people of any age who take a loan to afford a life-long dream? It doesn’t really matter whether your parents or some bank lend you money, financial independence is spoiled either way.
I guess my little Me back then was picturing myself at my current age as very wise and smart. Very experienced, knowing the answers to everything. Taking care of myself, other people, potential offspring. Knowing how to have a mature relationship, salary negotiations and also, how to deal with sudden catastrophes. Like my parents did. They can’t have been that much older than me now, back then when little Me was picturing grown-up Me. And yet it seems like a million years difference.
It’s a bit like this well-known phenomenon in school: when you are in the lower grades, you see those huge, smart people in the senior classes – but becoming a senior yourself, you try to spot them unavailingly. Instead, all you see are these late-puberty, pimple-faced boys without beard, and you yourself don’t feel much different than some years back.
Is growing up such a slow and ongoing process that we don’t notice it ourselves, being around and with us and all those thoughts constantly – like not noticing that someone loses weight if you are with them all the time? Or maybe there is a slight chance that we will never reach the stage of being a grown-up, and life is always challenging. Thinking back, there were always problems occurring in my life – but they certainly became more essential the older I got. Accumulated life experience unfortunately doesn’t necessarily make a handling of those easier. Maybe, as kids we just ignore problems we don’t understand yet – and therefore we wouldn’t see our parents struggling: with money, decisions, and their own relationship.
Experience prepares us for facing similar problems again, but the natural addition of an extra portion of responsibility gives us new challenges every day. Growing-up might simply mean to be able to distinguish important problems from bullshit. But it certainly doesn’t make life easier.
Or maybe I will mature with the uncertain day that I hold my own kid in my arms? Yes, I can definitely picture myself in future, all wise and grown-up!