Growing up is a very individual, personal process in the culture in which I was raised. There are few formal rites of initiation, and few recognized benefits of growing older.
The culture is oriented toward the future, toward being youthful. People in our culture tend to put off growing up as long as possible.
Growing up is seen as the way in which we take on responsibilities, as the way in which we are drawn into commitments that restrict and limit our options.
I was born and raised in the Midwest, where I was taught the value of growing up. Growing up was what life was all about. It was important to do well in school, to meet your responsibilities, to find the right answers. Life was challenging, challenges built character, and growing up was about doing your best.
Growing up was about following the rules and keeping your word.
I took these lessons to heart and met people’s expectations.
My family taught me the value of education, so I stayed in school and earned two graduate degrees. I worked hard to find the right answers in life, and was proud of my willingness to do whatever it took to accomplish my goals.
It took me time and effort to learn that growing up is about more than being old. I was asleep to myself, prematurely old. It was a painful process to wake myself up and realize what I had missed.
I realized that growing up is more about taking responsibility for yourself than about always meeting your responsibilities.
Being an adult is more about knowing and being true to myself than about the expectations of others. Slowly, but surely, I am growing up.
How are you growing up today?
What are the lessons you are learning?
[Image by rolands.lakis]