I was emailing back and forth with one of my reader friends over the weekend when he said something that really jumped out at me.
"Once young, always young."
We were talking about the weirdness and swiftness of getting older (I just turned 22, he just turned 23), and I asked him if he felt like an adult yet. I expected him to say something like, "Of course! I mean, I'm 23. It's about time I start feeling like an adult. Don't you??"
I guess I have this weird assumption that everyone on the face of the planet that is past the age of 21 (except me) feels and acts like a fully functioning adult...Silly, silly me.
Being young and being taken care of is what we know from the moment we're thrust into the world. We're born with the instinct to rely on people and screw up and be vulnerable/innocent. Growing up is probably the hardest transition anyone can make (even for the people who make it look easy).
We are going to learn, re-learn, and make the same mistakes over and over again. We are going to want people to hold our hands, reassure us, and take care of us when we're sick, sad or confused. We are going to call our mothers and grandmothers for cooking advice and rant and complain about things we "should" be able to handle on our own. We are going to experience feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, fear and loneliness. We are going to get excited about ice cream and Disneyland and old Nickelodeon cartoons. We are going to forget how to spell "necessarily." We are going to Google the difference between a mutual fund, a bond, and a stock investment.
I'm starting to think that none of us ever really "grow up." Growing up is equivalent to aging (obviously). It continues to happen whether we like it or not, and it never stops. We age and age until we die. Just like we're never done aging, we're never done growing up. I continually make the mistake of thinking that being a grown-up is a destination I have to reach by a certain age. It's not. There are people in their 50s and 60s that struggle with the exact same things I do.
We may grow, change and transform over the years, but we're still essentially the same person we came into the world as. Maybe we're all little kids on the inside---little kids longing for love, attention, guidance and stability.
And I suppose growing up doesn't mean you have to be a grown-up.