Serious question. How do you know when you’ve grown up? And what does that even mean – to be “grown”? We’re always growing and maturing… what I’m talking about is that point in your life when you start feeling like a grown up. I’ve been thinking about this lately because my birthday is tomorrow, and I always get a little introspective around this time of year. This year in particular, I feel different. I feel as if something has gelled within me, something has clicked on a deep level. And it dawned on me, that this sensation is possibly what it feels like to be grown.
I imagine everyone has their own barometer, but for me, being grown is not about how old you are, how much money you make, if you own or rent, your career status, your marital status, or whether you’re a parent or not. It’s about reaching a certain level of self-awareness and coping ability. It’s about how well you take care of yourself and manage your life, including your emotional health. And it’s about confidence – not the loud boastful *confidence* of youth, but the quiet confidence of maturity.
Being grown doesn’t mean you’ve stopped evolving – in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about wanting and actively trying to learn and grow, recognizing that you in fact do not know everything. And being okay with that, not feeling as if you’re less than or not enough.
I associate youth with a lot of positive things, but also with a fair amount of insecurity, self-doubt, self-sabotage, and self-criticism. When you’re grown, it’s not that you don’t have these feelings – but you’re better at controlling them and not letting them get the better of you. Being able to control your feelings is probably one of the most difficult things to do. I’m still not great at it, but I’m way better than I used to be.
Immaturity also feeds on drama, whereas maturity does not. This is why maturity has little to do with age, because there are plenty of adults who feed on drama, i.e. make a big deal and worry about everything, constantly feel like victims, and never actually use the advice they’re always seeking, or do much of anything to fix their problems.
Over the summer, I started a list of things that I thought make a person “grown” – with the caveat that “I can decide later which ones count.” This is what I came up with:
You’re grown when…
- You start making and rescheduling your own doctor appointments.
- You’re on top of your bills and finances and running a tight ship independently.
- You’re disciplined with your time, diet, spending, and/or routine.
- You’re able to cope day-to-day and maintain a relatively content life without complaining all the time.
- You plan ahead and make strategic decisions.
- You stop making decisions based on what other people think.
- You can acknowledge your mistakes and/or weaknesses, take responsibility for your actions, apologize for mistakes, not berate yourself for your weaknesses, and work towards shoring up those weaknesses.
- You stop taking things personally and can assess what’s really going on.
- You know what you need vs. what you want.
- You can remain calm (or at least the appearance of calm) in a crisis.
- You know when to ask for help, who to ask, and how to ask.
- You start asking for what you want.
- You can keep a secret (as in, keep things close to the vest until the appropriate time).
- You can read people fairly quickly and know how to deal with them without confrontation.
- You can recognize what triggers you and soothe yourself when you are triggered.
- You set deadlines for yourself and stick to them (same with boundaries).
- You stop beating yourself up about everything.
- You stop feeling jealous of others or, rather, channel any hint of jealousy into action.
- You know how to listen.
- You can say No to things, or certain people, and not feel guilty about it.
- You know how much your time is worth and act accordingly.
- You know what friendship means and stop treating everything as a transaction.
- You stop holding grudges and either accept people for who they are, or gently let them go.
- You stop making excuses.
- You can receive advice, or feedback, gracefully (and gratefully) and not get defensive.
I could keep going… but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What do you think makes a person grown?