As a child the part of growing up that always excited me, was the freedom. The freedom to do what you want, and go wherever you want to go, and to be free to make your own choices. We all know this is true to an extent but as an adult we may reverse back into childhood obeying whatever cultural ‘shoulds’ of the culture, family and country we live in without even questioning if we even believe them to be part of who we are. And as a child we are often blissfully unaware of the responsibilities and challenges that come with the freedom we so eagerly seek. And while we will all grow older every year that does not mean that we will all grow up in the full sense of the word.
This TED talk inspired me to write about this topic as I believe that we don’t stop growing mentally when we reach 18 years old. Or we shouldn’t really.
Growing up requires that we consciously choose to mature, and that in itself it is not an easy thing to do. It means that we recognise certain realities and how the world works around us, and thus, how we must behave and think beyond the tip of our nose. I don’t think we should conform and become robots doing whatever society dictates us to do but it is important to be aware of the effects of our actions and to take responsibility for every action we make.
Even though this sounds like a very hard thing to do, part of this process is also to understand that we are far from perfect and that we ALL make mistakes and that it is fine to do so. There is nothing wrong with not behaving perfectly all the time as long as there is willingness to do it better the next time. But unlike the child pointing the blame into a different direction the grown up decides to do better next time and to take responsibility for his actions. This simple shift in mentality will lead to a cascade of consequences in the mind of the newly grown- up:
You will discover that you are a work in progress and that will relieve the pressure off your shoulders enormously. Little by little you will improve some things and you will make new mistakes, but nothing will be permanent as you will be in constant movement and evolution.
Life won’t simply be unfair anymore and you will always have a choice. And we all do. Even in the worst of circumstances we can choose at least how to react to life events and situations. There is a cascade of horrible emotions that come with the childish mentality that things are not fair because you deserve this and this other person deserves that less. Jealousy and envy are red flags that are only telling us: hey! That is what I want, that is what I would like to be, to have…etc. As grown-ups though, we should ask the difficult questions like: why I desire this, really? And what can I do to get it or be more like it?
You will throw your excuses out of the window. You know you are growing up when excuses start to feel really lame for you. And excuses come from all places really. Excuses like I don’t lose weight because <insert excuse> or I don’t get that type of job because <insert excuse> and the list can go on and on and on… I met teenagers who told me with a straight face:’ I don’t draw because I am very bad at it’. Simple and fatalistic. They have found an excuse to not even try to do it. And the funny thing is that there is not good or bad in art; that is the beauty of it. Whatever we do is our expression so it cannot be judged in a standard ‘good’ or ‘wrong’ way. So you can’t be bad at it. It would be like saying that you are bad at breathing! You just do it! What many kids do, and as a teacher I have seen this over and over and over again (also in adults by the way) is to use these statements as an excuse for them not doing what they want to do or they would like to do and to go into full victim-hood. These self-limiting beliefs are sometimes something that we have heard when we were children and that we have adopted as our own set of beliefs or maybe we came up with these beliefs by ourselves. But the road of victim-hood is a path were people get stuck seeing other pass by and doing, living the lives they wish they could live. It is a road full of regret, full of cynicism and full of anger. But it makes sense as people living like that are denying themselves what they want most over and over again. To grow up is to face those self-limiting beliefs and question them, challenge them. Only with change there is growth.
‘’Just because your pain is Understandable
Doesn’t mean that
Your behaviour is Acceptable’’
Dr Steve Maraboli
You will discover the art of conversation as what it really is: an exchange of opinions. My own work growing up has been around expressing more of what I believe and what I think independently of my audience. But for others it could be to listen more and to show interest for other people’s opinions for example. The minute you do that you will be opening yourself for change as letting in the experiences and opinions of other people will enrich your own life and experiences. It does not mean that we have to agree to everything but that we are open to new and different ideas and beliefs.
You will gain perspective. You will understand that not everyone sees the world the same way you do but will be ok with the differences. While we may choose not to spend time with people who have extremely different approaches to life, we can do so respectfully, the same way you would hope others to do with you. The adult child will meet someone with different ideas or views of the world and will attempt to change the other person or to make that person feel inferior with guilt, shame or negativity in an attempt to compensate for their lack of confidence.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on your own experience growing up and what has been the best rewards of passing this threshold.
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