“Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.” – Kurt Vonnegut
What they don’t tell you in all of those ‘coming of age’ novels and movies is that there’s no single moment imbued with dramatic tension and building background music after which you say, “yup, I’m an adult now.”
Contrary to what television might have you believe, girls don’t become women the day they get boobs, and boys don’t become men the first time they get laid.
And I can emphatically say, no, you do not become a grown up the day you turn 21. (The raging hangovers and countless regrets that accompany the morning after many a 21st birthday are proof enough of that.)
In reality, the moments in which you make strides toward growing up (and there are many) only make any sense in hindsight. Sometimes, not even then.
You grow up a little the first moment you realize your parents are only human- that they don’t know everything, that they make mistakes. You grow again when you forgive them for that.
You grow up when you feel the sting of betrayal from someone you thought you could trust. Even if that betrayal comes in the form of your best friend taking the last red ice pop.
You grow up every time you definitively lose someone you care about. When you realize that you will never connect with them again in this life, and you feel it deep down in your gut. Permanently.
You grow up when you feel protective over someone else, when you start to put more stock in other’s people’s well-being than your own.
You grow up the day you actively choose what you’ll put your faith in.
You grow up the first time you get your heart properly broken. Not high-school, you-never-even-talked-to-him/her broken. Really shattered. And then you’ll find out what you’re made of the day you bend down to pick up the pieces.
You grow up when you realize no one’s opinion of you matters as much as your own, and that personal happiness is not a selfish concept.
You grow up when you make a decision without consulting anyone else- and whether you triumph or fail miserably, you start to own your actions.
You grow up the first time you feel wholly and truly alone.
You grow up when you realize how very small you are in the universe, but how very big your actions can be to those around you.
You grow up when you learn to embrace your emotions, when you allow yourself to be happy without fear or sad without shame.
You grow, and you grow, and you grow. You graduate and get a job, but those things don’t make you a grown up. Maybe you get married, maybe you earn another degree, but that doesn’t mark your entrance into adulthood.
The truth is, if you do it right, you’ll never really be all grown up despite growing older.
Now, isn’t that a relief?