From Grown-up to Grown-wise

Posted by: on Oct 10, 2015 | No Comments

218361038f3540870_wWhat IS a grown-up? Really!?! We should know because it’s a point towards which we’ve been aiming since we were little.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a question we’ve almost all been asked, as children, over and over. The “be” in the question always refers to work/career–as if that is the most important part of who we become.

And WHEN are people grown-ups? Is it age 18? (Not.) Is it post-college age? How about right around the midlife crisis time? Nope, I actually would say that midlife crisis (which happens all the time and doesn’t necessarily involve red sports cars) occurs right alongside the realization that you’ve become a “grown-up” and you haven’t actually figured out everything you thought you would and you might have made some decisions that aren’t proving to be as fun or exciting (parenthood? marriage?) as you’d always imagined.

Usually the signposts of adulthood that people mention have something to do with seeming to “have your sh@$%t together.” When I’ve asked around, one friend said she’d thought when she was a grown up her refrigerator would be neatly organized. My mother always said half-jokingly that she’d truly feel grown up when she had matching bedroom furniture (I guess my mother wasn’t grown-up until post-retirement).

However, we can probably all agree that there are some pretty organized folks out there who’ve got very little in the emotional maturity bank.

The fact is, in this time of globalization and individualism, many of us have largely distanced from any religion or culture that provides education for, and rituals to mark, the transition from youth to adulthood. Certain markers are laid out as goals and expectations (varying depending on class/income/education):

college

career

marriage

home-buying

children

But what do you do if you reach some or all of these goals and you still feel like you’re faking it till you make it?

Realize you’re not alone. As Albert Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know.” Not-knowing is perhaps more of a sign of maturity than knowing (think of the all-knowing teenager). Life is both too complex and too simple to comprehend. The best we can do is continue to let go of thinking we should be able to tie everything up in neat little packages.

Maybe instead of growing up, we should aim for growing wise. We all have wise parts and confused parts–the more grown-wise we are, the more we are able to notice the confused or scared parts.  We can let the wise parts lead the confused parts instead of letting the confused parts run the show.  The more we listen to the wise parts and let them lead, the more we are able to relax into each moment…to let go of needing to define or compare ourselves. We simply become more comfortable being who we are more and more fully.

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