At the age of 52 I should consider myself a grown-up, but I still look over my shoulder when someone says they need to talk to the person in charge, or if I’m walking down the street and parents tell their child to mind the lady I look for her. I just don’t feel grown -up, I have a lot of growing and learning yet to do, I am still learning about myself I really haven’t reached ‘grown’ yet. As human beings we are forever growing and developing, we are chameleons a constantly changing species, how do we know when we have ‘grown’? Do you wake up one morning with an enlightened grown-up glow? Growing is not just about changing on the outside and getting longer legs, bigger boobs, and cellulite it’s about what’s happening on the inside, the personal growth.
From very early on as children we judge our parents to be grown-up, after all they are the ones that tell us not to lick the inside of the freezer door, and when your tongue gets stuck to it after not listening to them you realise why. Parents may appear wise but there’s certainly a lot of room for self growth and discovery on the inside, something we only come to realise as we develop and grow emotionally. The belief that as soon as you are a parent or carer of a child you will be fully functioning on a physical, emotional and mental level that you are now the grown-up and can take charge of any situation that comes your way is quite frankly a load of bollocks. You will be expected to deal with the emotional and mental cataclysms that get hurled at you from the toddler stage through to the hormonal teenager, you learn to rebound them away with your ‘grown-up’ defensive shield like some superhero.
Throughout all of life’s relationships we are continually growing and learning about ourselves, every situation we find ourself in we deal with it on the back of the outcome of the last. The woman who looks like her shit is together on the outside is still dealing and learning on the inside, do not be fooled by her floating grown-up facade she’s swimming like crazy under the surface, like the rest of us, acting all grown-up but scratch the exterior and she’s still discovering herself.
When you look at yourself in the mirror do you see a grown-up? A person of maturity that has immense worldly knowledge has reached their potential, a person who not just appears grown-up on the outside but has an aura of true self-understanding glowing from the inside, because I definitely don’t. When I look at myself I see a woman who still needs a lot of work, who is still eager to learn and grow on the inside. The dictionary definition of grown-up is; fully formed adult, well I can tell you honestly that certainly ain’t me! I still open my mouth at the wrong time, say the most inappropriate things, giggle during serious situations, but for all of those un-grown-up traits, I love learning more about myself and understanding what makes me who I am.
I think ageing disgracefully with an open mind, an element of naivety and being not fully formed is where I want to be. When I see a group of raucous older ladies behaving like they were in their first flush of youth, their un-grown-up attitude spilling over and making everyone want to join their party. That’s where I want to be, at their table drinking in their fun, learning about life, listening to what they are still learning. A beautiful quote by Maya Angelou in Letter to my daughter: “I am convinced that most people do not grow up…We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside are innocent and shy as magnolias.”
So if grown-up is fully formed then I know a lot of people that still haven’t got there yet, and I’m now questioning whether instead of grown-up we should re-title ourselves in-development? I’m definitely in-development, a work in progress and enjoying the journey to grown-up, that’s if grown-up really is a destination that you ever reach?