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??