Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grow Up Already!

NaBloPoMo is offering up a juicy one today!

The prompt is: What is the moment you leave childhood and enter adulthood?

This is such a great question, but I'm not sure where to start on it.

Where is the line is a topic that has come up lots of times in my life in different forms.  It came up a ton in my own life, where did I stop being a kid and start being a grown up?  Then as a parent you tackle it in trying to raise kids that will be "ready" to go live the life they were born for.  As a girl friend and mentor it's come up as I've tried to nudge, encourage, heck, straight up shove someone into adulthood.

And every time, it's tricky.  It's complicated because the shift is much more emotional than we give it credit for.

It would be easy if we could sit back on the adult side and say, oh here it is.  As soon as you have a job and work X amount of hours per week, earn this kind of money, pay your own way, live on your own, blah, blah, blah, then, then you are an adult.

Those things, although very adult in nature, do not make an adult, it seems.

It seems the shift to adult happens somewhere in the mind, the heart.  It's all rolled into experiences and feelings.

Making the leap from child to adult is, I think for many of us, not a singular moment, but a collection of them stretching across a space of time in our lives.

We come to realize our parents are simply human, just like us.  We come to see that we have dreams and desires that are our own and not those of our parents.  A person reaches the place where they realize a dream can in fact be chased after and caught.  We realize the impact and influence of our parents, our families, our collective upbringing experiences and value them, but decide for ourselves how much of that we want to wear in our lives and what parts we simply want to learn from and not repeat or mirror as adults.  Mistakes are many in this season, sometimes costly, but owned by the maker.

Sometimes a part of it is in the knowing that no matter how loved we are by our parents and families, we are standing on our own now.  The things we do or don't do have their out comes and consequences and we have to take them whether we like them or not.  There is no longer anyone there to hold our hand, clean up our messes after us, get us that special "pass" because we're young or inexperienced or whatever excuse our parents may have been willing to make for us.

For some of us these transitions from child to adult come easy.  Our families set us up and our lives provided us with plenty of experience and confidence to slide seamlessly out of one and into the other.  Some of us, were over protected or maybe not quite tuned in to our own lives and weren't as ready.  Adulthood was more thrust upon us as an frustrating shock.  We may have been unprepared for the reality of life, not being anything like what we imagined, simply because we spent to much time and energy imagining and pretending.    Maybe we didn't have enough of those, life is just tough and unfair experiences, to be ready for the first time real life dumped on us while we were on our own.

Sometimes getting from childhood to adult requires a fight, sometimes even the fight of your life.  Out of love and/or good intentions a well meaning family may hold on too tight, my not be willing to let go, may not be able to see their "baby" move on.  This step into adulthood often comes with anger and resentment, fear and doubt.  The joys in the transitions, the wins and successes are over shadowed by hurt, pain and guilt.

It's not an easy question to answer.  It's not an easy one to "do right" and who really knows if there is a right way.  We all have to eventually make our way from child to adult, because the alternative is disaster, right?  We all know some of those people that are living adult lives, but in reality are not adults.  Their lives are running them over and filled with chaos and pain.  They are disappointed and frustrated.  These are often people that believe, even when they think they don't, that life somehow owes them something, or that they are just destined to get the raw end of things.  Sometimes it's even couched in the guise of religious beliefs, you know, the whole, my treasures are stored in heaven so I just have to grit my teeth and accept this hard, painful life, instead of thinking maybe your God just wants you to be more of an active partner in your own life.

I think in the end it's complicated.  It's a book not an essay.  It's a life snatched up and lived all in or a life missed while waiting for the magic to come.

What do you think?

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