I recently had a conversation where ‘growing up’ came up and the girl who brought it up, meant it in the most simplistic way. She talked about her response to everyone who had asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, how simple it all seemed to her. Her eyes lit up when she spoke about the change she thought she could/ would make by doing one right thing, the right thing. Like many people, she didn’t end up doing what she thought she would but she’s happy still. She spoke about how simple the problem she wanted to solve seemed and how much more layered it was now that she understood it, now that she could do something possibly more effective about it.
Her words really got me thinking about myself, the person I thought I wanted to be when I grew up. I tried to think about my earliest response to that question but all I could remember was everyone else’s. I also remembered rehearsing the answers I was ‘supposed’ to give and it was never because my parents made me feel like I had to have an answer, but because everyone else did. When everyone else seemed to have answers that were mostly consistent, mine were either non- existent or ever changing.
What do you wanna be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if you become something and that is all there is.
– Michelle Obama
This conversation also got me thinking about when you’re considered to have ‘grown up’. When I was much younger, my siblings and friends’ older siblings always seemed like different stages of growing up. In high school specifically, eighteen felt like the age when the clarity was supposed to come, when the growing up was supposed to happen. So when I joined university, I wasn’t unsure about what I wanted to do/be but I was sure it was never going to be the only thing. It was never going to be the only thing to be ‘when I grow up’. As I continue to study and learn though, the options of all the things I could be and do have only increased. For a very long time, I was certain that I was lagging behind because I couldn’t even figure out a specific thing I wanted to do in the field I’m studying. I put so much unnecessary pressure on myself, which helped in some ways, but always made me feel like I wasn’t quite getting to ‘growing up’ and everyone else around me was. While I felt like I was constantly discovering things I could do and love, everyone else felt like they were narrowing it down or doing the right things to move towards ‘growing up’.
How can I create a limited, definable self, when I feel in me all possibilities?
Now however, I’m more comfortable with being more than one thing and finding ways to bring together the things I like, love or enjoy. It is clearer to me that our paths and purposes don’t get clear simultaneously, that growing up is not a single event after which we gain clarity. Growing up is continuous and so there is always more to be, to want to be and it never has to be one thing.
We’re never fully arrived, we’re always evolving, always becoming.”
“Be still.” Psalm 46:10
Be Kind and Have Courage,