Thought Catalog
October 22, 2013

21 Funny, Wise, and Seriously Difficult Quotes on Growing Up

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What is the issue?

One day, we wake up and realize we’re not children anymore. Perhaps it’s after we graduate elementary school, or maybe it’s high school, or maybe it’s when we have our first kiss or start to worry about money or death. Whenever it is, we do grow up. We’re forced to. There comes a time that we’re no longer allowed to be dependent on our parents. A time when our innocence disappears. A time when our carelessness is no longer seen as youthful and charming, but as pathetic and unduly childish.

Growing up is by no means a bad thing. It allows us to make a difference in the world, to find out who we are, and to live the life we imagined as children. We dreamed of growing up when we rested our young heads on our downy pillows and looked up with wonder at the glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to our ceiling, wondering what the world looked beyond our own home, beyond the world that had been so meticulously created for us.

Yet upon growing up, we find that reality often contends with those very dreams. We find that the reality of growing up is perhaps less lovely than we’d envisioned. We find that the only thing we really want back is our youth and our innocence, and the cruel irony is that these are the very things that will never return.

And so, a few melancholy, funny, and bizarre quotes about losing innocence and the inevitable nature of growing up:

He wanted to care, and he could not care. For he had gone away and he could never go back anymore. The gates were closed, the sun was down, and there was no beauty left but the gray beauty of steel that withstands all time. Even the grief he could have borne was left behind in the country of youth, of illusion, of the richness of life, where his winter dreams had flourished. — F. Scott Fitzgerald
Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others. — Virginia Woolf
The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time. — Dante Alighieri
The invention of the teenager was a mistake. Once you identify a period of life in which people get to stay out late but don’t have to pay taxes — naturally, no one wants to live any other way. — Judith Martin
Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience… and pimples. — J.M. Barrie
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it. — Mark Twain
Youth was the time for happiness, its only season; young people, leading a lazy, carefree life, partially occupied by scarcely absorbing studies, were able to devote themselves unlimitedly to the liberated exultation of their bodies. They could play, dance, love, and multiply their pleasures. They could leave a party, in the early hours of the morning, in the company of sexual partners they had chosen, and contemplate the dreary line of employees going to work. They were the salt of the earth, and everything was given to them, everything was permitted for them, everything was possible. Later on, having started a family, having entered the adult world, they would be introduced to worry, work, responsibility, and the difficulties of existence — Michel Houellebecq
No one loses their innocence. It is either taken or given away willingly. — Tiffany Madison 
For, after all, you do grow up, you do outgrow your ideals, which turn to dust and ashes, which are shattered into fragments; and if you have no other life, you just have to build one up out of these fragments. — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything. — Kurt Vonnegut
I don’t think I’d have been in such a hurry to reach adulthood if I’d known the whole thing was going to be ad-libbed. — Bill Watterson
You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing. — George Bernard Shaw
One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. — J.M. Barrie
But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody’d written ‘fuck you’ on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them— all cockeyed naturally— what it meant, and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever’d written it. — J.D. Salinger
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. — Anne Frank
When I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calendar that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from the chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table. I spent my life learning to feel less. Every day I felt less. Is that growing old? Or is it something worse? You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness. — Jonathan Safran Foer
When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind. — Patrick Rothfuss
Until you’re grown-up they send you to reform school. After you’re grown-up they send you to the penitentiary. — Ernest Hemingway
On occasion, it occurs to adults that they are allowed to do all the things that being a child prevented them from doing. But those desires change when you’re not looking. There was a time when your favorite color transferred from purple to blue to whatever shade it is when you realize having a favorite color is a trite personality crutch, an unstable cultivation of quirk and a possible cry for help. You just don’t notice the time of your own metamorphosis. Until you do. Every once in a while time dissolves and you remember what you liked as a kid. You jump on your hotel bed, order dessert first, decide to put every piece of jewelry you own on your body and leave the house. Why? Because you can. Because you’re the boss. Because… Ooooh. Shiny. — Sloane Crosley
The place is changed now, and many familiar faces are gone, but the greatest change is myself. I was a child then, I had no idea what the world would be like. I wished to trust myself on the waters and the sea. Everything was romantic in my imagination. The woods were peopled by the mysterious good folk. The Lords and Ladies of the last century walked with me along the overgrown paths, and picked the old fashioned flowers among the box and rose hedges of the garden. — Beatrix Potter
I walked over to the hill where we used to go and sled. There were a lot of little kids there. I watched them flying. Doing jumps and having races. And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all of those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough, but it isn’t. — Stephen Chbosky TC mark
image – Vinoth Chandhar