All humans start life as helpless children, and not all grow up to be independent adults.
Stepping into adulthood requires embracing risk.
Do you remember when you first realised you were all on your own now?
It’s an exhilarating feeling, but at first might feel like heartbreak.
“The majority of ‘grown ups’ remain until their death psychological children who have never truly separated themselves from their parents.”
– M. Scott Peck
I have spoken before about why we need a break from our parents to find ourselves.
And this is the key to why many stay children all their lives: they aim to please!
Disappointing our parents is often the first step to growing up.
We needed their approval to survive, but cannot grow into our true selves if we are scared to offend and let them down.
Sometimes we rebel as teenagers against expectations, often we have to break their hearts to retain our own.
“We readily feel for the suffering child, but cannot see the child in the adult who, his soul fragmented and isolated, hustles for survival a few blocks away from where we shop or work.” – Gabor Mate
Remaining a child will be unconscious and painful while we’re in denial.
We only become aware of it once we have taken the leap and become adults.
We grow in small, incremental steps. All of them will feel like jumping into an abyss.
Clinging to the familiar, we are reluctant to experience the dangerous.
Remember how scary it was to first approach a love interest?
Each step of the courting is terrifying, but who doesn’t dare will not win!
“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time…”
– Little Women
While most expanding is done during our teenage years, we never stop growing up.
Leaving an abusive partner requires enormous jumps into adulthood.
Now or never, it’s up to us to have our own best self-interest at heart. Or else, who will?
Admitting we need help and (re)checking ourselves into rehab is being an adult.
Changing careers after we’ve sacrificed so much to follow our heart is being an adult.
Forgiving someone who has harmed us and does not deserve it is being an adult.
“Sometimes you have to grow up
before you appreciate how you grew up.”
– Daniel Black
Ultimately, growing up is an act of love.
Every time we change, we are valuing ourselves enough to not want to be miserable.
And the more we love ourselves, the more we know we are capable of change, and the readier we are to risk it all to become someone new.
When we are not living to please, and expecting others to fulfil our expectations, we can love so much deeper.
We can love freely and with sincerity.