The other day I was having a conversation with a friend about career choices and she told me that she hated the ‘grown-up problem’ of having to take decisions like your life depended on them. We laughed over the phone for a while over how we are still not ready to live the lives of 23-year old post-graduates and wished we could go back in time to when we could procrastinate for days and not worry about making the ‘right’ choices in life.
When the conversation ended I started to wonder if the experience of growing up was indeed so bad that we keep complaining about it almost all the time. After pondering over it for some time I realized that just like every other thing, growing up too has its pros and cons.
As a kid I never worried about half the things I worry about now even when it involved the simplest of stuff like what to wear on a date, how much calories to eat or what job to apply to. The onus of taking decisions was mostly on our parents and all we did was accept that they know best and just go on with it. With age, all this changes and we begin to think that we know what’s best for us and we must take responsibility for ourselves.
I remember how in school I had no qualms about getting perfect scores because anything above the bare minimum was good enough to get me by but in college, all this becomes a serious issue. You start treating grades as a determinant of a good, successful life and in pursuit of it you tend to push aside a lot of things you enjoyed as a child, for me it was music. My want to get into a good college overpowered my passion for music and I regret that deep inside me, now.
Graduating with good grades from a good university is not the end of your anxieties but rather, the very beginning of it as you do not know what comes after. You start thinking about if your qualifications are good enough for a decent job or if you need to study more and if you do which university to go to and what major to take up. Grades and career choices are only one side of the coin as while growing up we also encounter other anxieties, like relationship troubles.
Relationships which once seemed so taken-for-granted and uncomplicated soon tend to assume different meanings with age. While we lose or outgrow certain relationships, we also form new ones with the hope that they will last. There are some people who are your well-wishers and some who cannot accept your success without a pinch of salt. There are some friends who you can always rely on for life advices and some who never treated you more than a competition in the race of life.
Growing up is also associated with you needing people to respect your personal space and individual choices. Often, you may find yourself in situations of disagreements with friends and family over various matters which either will dishearten you or make you indifferent altogether. You also meet people who you feel are filling in the emotional vacuum within you. However, not everything is there to last and you may end up feeling betrayed by your own emotions so much so that you might want to build a wall around you to stop letting people in.
There will be disappointments, heartaches and heartbreaks but all that is a part of the growing up experience. You grow within and without relationships; you understand how much you’ve grown up with time when you are able to resolve issues with people without letting your ego get in the way, when you are able to let go of the people who hurt you hold you down, when you are able to deal with the bitter experiences and learn from your mistakes and when you are able to value yourself and your choices without depending on other’s approval.
Growing up isn’t easy but it isn’t all that bad either. You tend to develop a strong sense of individuality and you feel that you cannot depend on anyone else but yourself; if you make mistakes you can correct them on your own without shifting blame on someone else even if it seems to be the most convenient option. You feel like taking risks one in a while and see where that leads you, you can talk more freely with your friends and family almost about anything without inhibitions, you can evaluate situations better and take decisions accordingly, you can experiment with your lifestyle and relationships to explore all that you are capable of. There are just so many things you can only do when you grow up.
While some people want to grow up too fast, some don’t want to at all and there is nothing wrong with that. Growing up doesn’t happen with age but with experience, the more difficult situations you encounter and diverse people you meet, the more you grow up with a better understanding of things around you. What you initially felt you are struggling with, you tend to get better at it with time. What you felt was only getting worse and uncontrollable, you either learn to be patient with it or to simply let go.
As you grow up, priorities change and you become your own person. Whoever you think you are, you strive to be better and for that you put yourself through different experiences and each time, you come out as a different person. That’s what growing up is all about; you have the pleasure of meeting yourself in ways you thought did not exist. So let’s embrace the differences and the disappointments, the novel and the regular, and the pleasures and anxieties of growing up because you will only be able to absorb so much at one time and you may not be able to relive the same experiences you are going through at this moment anytime later. Make mistakes, take risks, take a leap of faith and a bunch of bad decisions; leave no room for regret and you will find yourself in a happy place, someday.