Growing Up

I am officially less than 6 months away from turning 30 and like every natural cliche, it has made me think a lot about what it means to grow up. We all know people who are considered adults who never seem to be able to act like one. We also have known those few (and what I would consider beautiful) souls who have been somewhat more mature than others despite their age – even since childhood. Six (years) going on thirty, if you will.

There are certain markers that imprint on someone who has come of age and transitioned into adulthood. Unfortunately for some, they will never make it. Many outside factors need to happen in order for someone to successfully evolve into a mature, capable adult. Now, I am not an expert by any means – I’m just speaking in general terms. If you look at any Coming-of-age literature or young adult literature, the protagonist typically encounters various trials that help him/her to discover what they’re capable of, see the world in a new light, find their inherent gifts and purpose, etc.

So in term of generalities and my varied observations, here are two things that I think  are indicators of being officially grown up – or at least on your way. 🙂

As I have encountered challenges in my life, they have all forced me to view myself in an accurate manner. Sometimes because I am my mother’s daughter and, therefore, very stubborn it took numerous times for me to finally “get” whatever I was missing. I finally realized just how utterly and appallingly HUMAN I can be. I was self-centered, unforgiving, callous, over emotional, etc – and it took several trial and error circumstances for me to even wake up and notice it. Eventually, God was able to open my stubborn eyes and allow me to see myself as I really was in an effort to help me begin the process of removing these negative and immature characteristics from my life.

Now, I am certainly not fully “there” and I often fall back into old ways, but the point I am trying to make lies in the maturity that just comes with awareness. Think about it, most of the adults who act like children you might know… aren’t they all in some way or another completely oblivious or unwilling to admit the ways in which they continue to act like a child? Someone who does not see their flaws or is unwilling to admit to them can never move beyond them.

Perhaps an even more important characteristic of a maturing person is the ability to see the big picture when it comes to people.

Every person is a unique individual who has a specific background that they’ve viewed from a personal lens no one else can see through. How well are you able to see where other people are coming from? How easily can you put yourself in other people’s shoes?

To me, one of the greatest marks of an immature person is the inability to think, see, or feel outside of themselves. They’re easily put off, offended, and defensive. Think about how often you have gotten upset at someone because they didn’t respond to something the way you would have? Or because they were hurt over something you felt was no big deal? Maybe they don’t respond to things that way because they had an Aunt when they were little who did and it always came across negatively? Maybe they were hurt by something you wouldn’t have been because all they heard growing up was that they weren’t good enough, or that their opinion didn’t matter – etc.

Each person has a story. It’s never the same as yours, even if you grew up with the same family, friends, school, socioeconomic background, or religion. I am not trying to say that opinions can’t be conflicting because they certainly can! I am really trying to address how we interact with people.

The other day I got SO MAD at this driver who was riding my bumper for over 2 miles. It feels like bullying when people do that and one of the things I don’t handle very well is bullying. This is because in MY story, I have always had a tendency to get picked on and it’s made me quite sensitive to it. BUT then that driver passed me and I saw that it was a Mom with a bunch of little kids in the backseat. It made me stop and consider that maybe she was rushing to get home because her kids were overtired and exhausting her. Maybe she was an only child and she has never easily managed the stress of loud or chaotic environments. I really have no idea. Isn’t that the point? She could just have been a rude driver, but I just have no idea? We don’t ever really know where people are coming from until we stop to take the time to find out.

That is growing up. Growing up means it can’t all be about you. Growing up means other people eventually have to start to matter. Growing up means being aware of your own short comings and showing grace when other people come up short.

Growing up is about gaining perspective.

What about you?? What do you think are the indicators of a maturing person??


2 comments on “Growing Up

  1. sonyadunham says:

    I definitely think that you’ve touched on some very important maturity markers. I also think that knowing which “battle to wage” or when to stand up for yourself is a sign of maturity. When I was much younger, I would fight anyone or anything that threatened me in some way, regardless of how big or how small. I always heard, “Sonya, you must learn how to pick and choose your battles.” I’ve probably struggled with that the most. I’ve never felt like I’ve had anyone really in my corner, and I have a tragic childhood to back that feeling up. So, I thought it was me against the world. Yet, I would often let people abuse and take advantage of me, afraid to stick up for myself. Most of the “fighting” that was done was after I’d felt backed into a corner with no way out. By that time, I was just angry and couldn’t see straight. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that there is something to picking one’s “battles.” Just because people are often hurtful or thoughtless, it doesn’t mean that their actions are worth the energy. Maturing is being able to see the ripples of an act long after the reactions is gone. Also, learning how to stand up and simply say, “This is your baggage. I’m not going to carry it for you. I’ve got enough on my plate,” goes a long way in 1) not battling every negative situation, and 2), standing up for yourself.

    I just have to say something here. I am an avid reader of your blog. I’ve enjoyed “getting to know you” through things you’ve said. I’ve not always been mature or made the right decisions in life or in friendships; I’m an odd bird. However, I think it’s inspiring that you are not afraid to be who you are and you’re not afraid to self-evaluate. I’m often afraid to be who I truly am, for fear that more people won’t like me. I do self-evaluate often, but the rest is still a struggle. Thank you for putting your thoughts and struggles out here for others to experience, to use for growth, and to be able to say, “I’m not the only one who is struggling with life.”

    Sometimes, well, in the past mostly, I’ve often thought about what life would be like if I weren’t here. I’ve often wanted to quit a life that was so damaging and didn’t seem to want me anyway. In the last few years, those thoughts are fewer and fewer. I’ve grown to understand that even when I don’t see the reasons why things or people are the way they are, why I’m the way I am, I know that God’s path is perfect; therefore, his intention for my life is perfect. He merely asks me to keep walking, one foot in front of the other, each day. Sometimes, people don’t know what mark they make in life, how very special and needed they are in life. I get the sense that you do. But, just in case I’m wrong and you doubt your place in this world, I need you to know that you never cease to inspire me, to teach me that I sell myself short, I sell others short, and that I must continue on because I’m not alone. Sometimes, we look into other people’s lives and we see their happiness, their ease in friendships or ease in finding opportunities, and we ask ourselves why our lives have been so difficult, why haven’t we had the “charmed” life that others have had, and then I read your posts and I realize that you struggle just as much as the rest of us. And, if you’re struggling at times, others, those whose lives seem magical, put together, struggle too. We just don’t see it.

    So, thank you. Thank you for just being you and for sharing your stories.

  2. shaun forrester says:

    I think the biggest sign of maturity is the ability to shrug off small things and not allow them to become big things. for example: how people see you or how they think about you. we all will always have critics. the trick is learning to please God, your spouse and those who you actually care about how they see you. I’ve gotten better over the years and it has unloaded so much stress in my life.

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