Most of the time we grow up from children, to teens, and then become adults. The first two transitions are huge. We grow taller, bigger, stronger, our bodies change, and we move away from home. Being an adult however comes with the misconception that we are grown up. It's a done deal. You take care of yourself and you've made it.
I thought about this last week after sitting around a table as I have many times before talking about children's behavior. Issues come up such as one child hitting another, stealing, lying, and being mean. We were there because the kids need help. This is nothing new to me, but I started wondering if 60 or 80 year old people could get around a table and talk about all the 25 and 30 year olds. What would they say? Oh, they've had it together ever since they were 18?
However, we're all adults here. We do what we want. We walk around taking emotional and sometimes physical swings at each other. We lie, cheat, and steal - and I'm not talking about criminals - we all know someone personally, or are someone personally, who does this stuff.
But again, we're grown ups, we pay our bills and live our lives.
At the root of all this interesting stuff is fear and commitment. As a child, we fear things like the monster under the bed. This fear eventually dissolves by looking under the bed, seeing there is nothing there, and seeing it was irrational. However, as adults we solidify fear in a lot of ways. We fear people different from us, opinions, that the opposite political parties candidate might win, or getting close to another person. We live like there is actually a monster under the bed, out to get us.
I just wonder when the last time I checked for my monsters was? Have I tricked myself into thinking that, because I'm an adult, my fears are valid. Or do I just have a more grown up and developed version of irrational fears?
I am realizing that yes, I do. The fears do carry weight sometimes, but most of the time it's all going to be okay very soon. Fear comes from opinions. Fear comes from bad news. Fear comes from someone different from us. Fear comes from being hurt relationally. Most often what causes worry is not end of the world material, and if it was, well I don't have to worry about that thing because the world is ending anyways.
This is not to say it's not all valid. It's just all about what areas need a good old "peek under the bed for a second look" and then not over react no matter what is found. This is the only way to move on and care well about what is going on in the world. We know we're just growing up, making progress, and mindfully moving through our life rather than thinking we've done good enough because we can hold down a job.
The best way to do this is to push the comfort zone in areas you're okay with and apply what you learn to the rest of your life. A lot of people find this in nature, some find it socially, others find it through books, faith, music, sports, or changing what they do or how they do it. Whatever it is, however you do it, find a way to keep changing. Find adventure, make your heart race, find and accept the people who treat you well, actually pushing you to where you want to go, during this process. Perhaps then when the sixty year olds get around the table, they'd be proud of us, we're really trying.
No one is grown up.
Everyone is growing up.
Being entitled to our opinions, fears, and set ways is no different than being entitled to the "fact" that there is a beast living in a hole under the mattress waiting to drag us away the second we step off the bed. The one thing we have going for us as adults is the ability to be self aware. Using that in a kind way is what being an adult seems to be mostly about, but also seems to be what many are missing out on.