Growing up – we all did that. Right? I mean, as adults we are generally not living with our parents. We have a job. We schedule and keep appointments. Even when we don’t always want to, we try to do what we need to. Ok, maybe sometimes we do. So isn’t this being “grown up”?
5 Myths About Growing Up
1. Getting Older is Becoming an Adult
We all know that guy. The person who acts a decade or so below their age. Sometimes it can be fun, right? And we all need a break at times. But eventually the immaturity crosses a line.
Instead, we age in different ways.
- Physically – our bodies grow into being adults
- Mentally – the way we think changes as we get more experience
- Emotionally – our ability to manage our emotions increases over time
All three aspects need to age at around the same time. Otherwise, someone could make good decisions but be upset over the smallest inconvenience. Or emotionally capable but makes poor decisions.
2. Growing Up Happens On Its Own
How many times have you heard “You are 18. Now you are an adult!” or “Congrats! You graduated college. Now you can live out on your own!”? These are simply events that happen. There are plenty of adults that don’t know what a checking account is. Or how to set up utilities. Instead of events, people need training and experience to grow up. Some examples:
- Paying bills
- Setting up utilities
- Buying food
- Cooking food
- Applying for work
- Keeping a job
- And I could go on
3. We Can Mature Easily
We like to find the easy way out. Who wants to work harder than we have to? Or do more work than is necessary? Unfortunately, the process of growing up involves embracing difficulty. This can look like:
- Getting up at the same time every day
- Making the bed, doing dishes, etc. every day
- Having difficult conversations
- Listening to understand, not respond
- Pushing yourself when exercising
- Accepting uncomfortable feelings
Doing difficult things trains our brains to not run from the hard decisions. Or difficult tasks. Or conversations. The more used to doing difficult things we become, the easier the difficult things get. Eventually what we thought was almost impossible becomes routine. We grow in our abilities. But this takes work. Lots of difficult, sometimes painful, work.
4. It’s Just Work and Work and Work
Yeah, sometimes life seems that way. And the more responsibility we take on the more we have to look out for. But this is a matter of perspective. If someone loves their job, it wouldn’t feel like work. Certainly not like if they hated their job.
Kinda like point 3, over time what feels like work, becomes routine. Take Jack doing the dishes. Jack hates doing the dishes. They kept piling up, and end up being a weekend-long project. But if Jack did the dishes because he didn’t want to, he is better off. He is learning to do what needs to happen, not what he wants to do. So Jack schedules the dishes for the first thing when he wakes up. At first is takes a lot of effort. But after a few weeks, it is just a part of Jack’s morning routine. What was once work, work, work is just what is.
5. Not Growing Up is Immaturity
Sometimes people choose to not grow up. Often that is out of fear. Am I capable? Do I have what it takes? If the answer might be “no”, someone could choose to not grow up. Sometimes we just don’t know better or have the tools to grow up.
Sometimes, though, we experience something when we are a child or teenager that is so overwhelming, we get stuck there. Emotionally or mentally. It isn’t a choice to be stuck. We just are. And we don’t often know we are stuck. Until something falls apart. Work, family, friendships can all suffer. Sometimes, we have to go back and start learning how to be a mentally and emotionally mature adult. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.
Sometimes, a person might end up so stuck that they don’t know how to move forward. Or a partner might be fed up “parenting” them they need help. And that is ok. Individual counseling and couples counseling can be a powerful help. Counseling can allow us to find the freedom to confidently live the life we want.