So you’re finally old enough to be considered a “grown up.” In some countries, an adult is 15. Some places say 18, some say 21, and others still hold to the idea that the brain is not fully grown and mature until age 25. Whatever the case, the journey to adulthood isn’t easy, and the long-awaited arrival is something to be celebrated.
But don’t get too excited. Because, honestly, getting old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And there are a lot of really ironic things about finally growing up.
For instance, how many times did you hear the words “Just grow up already” as a kid? Probably not much at all. Why? Parents cherish childhood. They love the little moments that make their children so precious to them. In fact, Taylor Swift had it right in her song “Never Grow Up.” Most parents would give anything to keep their little ones young and innocent. From about ages 0 to 16 (give or take), our parents look at us as little blossoming flowers. They don’t dare force us into adulthood too quickly, lest we wilt under the pressure. In fact, I don’t think I can remember a single time being told that I should hurry up and grow up as a child. But now that I’m 21, God forbid a week go by without me hearing those words. As a “grown up,” I have been told to grow up more times that I care to recount. But why? Why are we so cautious to force a child into adulthood; yet once we are finally adults, we are expected to completely shut out all things childish? It’s almost an unfair expectation. As if yelling at someone to “grow up already” is really going to suddenly change them into this perfect adult or something. Ridiculous.
Another thing I find incessantly ironic about being a grown up is that we are no longer allowed to dress ourselves. Think about it, as children, we were encouraged to pick out our own outfits, no matter how ridiculous they may have looked. Heck, parents let their kids go out in pajamas to the store, or in princess outfits to church. People admired our unique senses of style as kids, and we didn’t have to worry about fitting in, because we were born to stand out. Now, however, as an adult, I have approximately 99.9% less say in what I wear than I did when I was 5.
“That shirt is way too low. Go change” “Those pants look like they were painted on. Go change.” “Those shoes don’t match your outfit. Go change.”
The list is never-ending. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone over to my mom’s house (love you, mom) as a grown woman and received criticism for what I was wearing. Pajamas are no longer an acceptable way to dress when shopping, unless you want to end up on that one website about the people of Wal Mart. And we can’t even dress as princesses for church. Where did our creative freedom go? Why were allowed to pick our clothes as kids but hardly have any choice as we get older? Oh, the irony.
Not only that, but we can’t even eat what we want anymore. Remember being a kid and nomming down (nom nom nom) on some delicious sugary cereal for breakfast, chicken nuggets and cookies for lunch, and some other extremely unhealthy but easy-to-cook meal for dinner? Those were the good ole days. And to all of you with over-protective parents who never let you touch sugar, I am truly sorry. Anyway, now that I’m older, I actually have to watch my figure and keep tabs on what I eat. So unfair. Those chunky rolls that used to be “so adorable” are suddenly unsightly and gross. People who used to fawn over my chubby cheeks are telling me to lose weight. As we get older and are supposed to have more freedom and independence, it seems we actually lose the majority of it.
It’s also really ironic that adults create and write and produce and direct all kid’s movies. Yet, for some odd reason, an adult who enjoys kid’s movies is mocked for being childish. Yes. Please explain to me how “Paranormal Activity” has taught you more values and life lessons than “Toy Story.” Enlighten me about how childish I am because I don’t enjoy movies with perverse sexual references, nudity, gore, and pointless plot lines. Sounds truly thrilling. But really, I feel like the people who write kid’s movies are ten times more “grown up” than the writers of most of today’s current “adult” films. The former actually have to use their minds to come up with something entertaining enough to keep a kid’s attention for more than an hour. They also have to figure out how to please the parents (who will undeniably have to sit through the same flick hundreds of times.) That takes some major skill and maturity. So why is it so awful for a grown up to enjoy kid’s movies? It isn’t, and shouldn’t be.
Ever noticed how grown ups also have way less privacy than kids? When i was younger, my mom would leave me in my room to play on my own for hours. I could even have boys in there (gasp). I could go to my friends’ houses and stay the night, no questions asked. I could watch tv or talk on the phone or go on the computer without someone always checking up on me. As I grew up, I lost virtually all of that privacy (granted, most of it was deservedly lost.)
Forget having boys in my room. I couldn’t even be in the basement watching tv with them. No talking on the phone in my room anymore either. Whenever I wanted to go to a friend’s house, it was like an interrogation session. Where was I going? Who would be there? How long would I be gone? What were we going to do? Why did I want to go? I felt significantly more like a child at age 16 than I ever had in my life. Even in college, the questions continued. Was I making good choices? Was I hanging out with the right people? Don’t get me wrong, my parents are wonderful people, and they raised me right. I’m just pointing out a sad reality about growing up.
You always hear your parents say things like, “You can make that decision for yourself when you’re a grown up.” So untrue. My mom said I could get a tattoo when I moved out. And I did, but that didn’t mean she was happy about it. It’s all a conspiracy! They tell you you can do whatever you want when you grow up, but then they make you feel so guilty about it that you end up doing what they would have wanted in the first place. Even when you think you’re an adult, your mommy and daddy still have your mind under their control. (Sarcasm, by the way. I don’t think parenting is a conspiracy to control our brains.)
My pastor once said this: “Live your current dream.” What he meant was, in a nutshell, enjoy the moment. Live life to it’s fullest, no matter what stage you’re in. When I was 5, I wanted to be 10. When I was 10, I wanted to be 16, and so on. As an adult now, I look back and realize that childhood wasn’t all that bad after all. And many times I wish I could go back. Growing up has proven to be a painfully ironic process, but every moment has been worth it. And I’m sure there is so much more to come.
I’m taking it all in stride and enjoying the irony one day at a time.