Why My Version Of ‘Growing Up’ Doesn’t Have To Match Yours


Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not a grown up.

At least, not yet.

I am twenty and a half years old, building up a publishing company, leading people who are older than me to help me reach our company’s vision.

I live in a condo with the company’s founders, all paid for, including the food.

I can work wherever I want, whenever I want, as long as I have a computer and good internet.

Last week, I was launching a book in a coffee shop downtown. This week I’m getting an author signed while reading my new favourite novel at home.

In the digital age, it has given me the freedom to manage and grow a company outside of an office.

You can say I’m lucky. Because I really am. I’m also hard-working, responsible, and making my dreams happen on my own.

But a lot of people will say otherwise.

Because I’m not paying for my own rent, buying my own food, or working in a proper office, some will think I’m still a pampered little girl who doesn’t really know the responsibilities that life has.

I say I’m redefining what growing up really is.

What does a “grown up” really look like?

 Not living off of parents. Graduated college. A house of their own. A stable job. Has plans of getting married soon. Wants to have kids.

These are the standards that were set for us long before we even knew what being a grown up meant.

We are expected to march through life the way others have done decades before, to follow the rules and conform.

Many have defined their life purpose this way, and were taught to shun those who say otherwise.

Our life seems to have been mapped out before we even got to see what it has to offer.

And every day we are reminded to simply follow, to stop thinking of our passions and dreams, to simply say “yes” to our bosses without a second thought.

A lot of people who just got out of college trap themselves in the mentality that as long as they get a good job and find someone to be with for the rest of their life, they’re set.

But these standards were set a hundred years ago. These were set before there was a small rectangle box that can tell us how the weather is today and where to find the nearest restaurant.

They were set before information could be accessed even from the smallest of houses. Before diplomas could be earned online. Before condominiums offered a better deal than getting your own house. Before jobs could be done at the comfort of your home. Before women and men could freely decide whether or not they want to get married. Before women could voice out that they didn’t want to have kids.

But now we have the modern definition of a grown up:

Anything we want it to be.

You can be a struggling musician who works at 7/11 in the morning and rocks out at night.

You can be a freelance graphic artist slowly saving up to start your own business.

You can be a housewife who is more than happy to see her kids grow rather than have other people take care of her kids.

Being a grown up is being able to do what makes you happy. It is pushing out of what everyone else says and being your own person.

I am not defining myself as a grown up yet because I have a long way to go to be able to reach my goals.

But I am growing up.

Just not by everyone else’s standards. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

A pygmy world traveler who believes that passion can take you anywhere

Keep up with Le-an Lai on Instagram, Twitter and leanlai.com

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