Growing Up

When did you first feel ‘grown up’? Do you remember it as a specific time, or did it happen gradually?

When I was a child, it was a two-word phrase that was used to scold me. “Grow up!” I first remember my dad using it when I was probably seven or eight years of age. He was still saying it the last time I had a conversation with him when I was twenty-four. He never realised just how much time I had spent wanting to grow up.

For most of the twelfth year of my life, I wanted to be thirteen. A teenager was something to aspire to, especially with the expanding freedoms of the 1960s. By the time I was sixteen, I wanted desperately to be seventeen, so I could drive a car. Driving was going to make me into an immediate grown-up, I was convinced of that.

Although a change in the law allowed me to vote when I was eighteen, I couldn’t wait to be twenty-one. That was manhood! Key of the door time. A twenty-one year old was undeniably a man. A grown up. But my twenty-first was something of an anti-climax. It seemed I really had to be twenty-five before my car insurance company would consider me to be a responsible adult, and reduce my high premiums accordingly.

Then I was twenty-five, and got married that same year. I was a married man! Surely that was grown up? But the insurance company didn’t reduce my payments, citing increased costs as the reason to make me keep paying the same amount. Three years later, I was working as an EMT in Central London.

Now I felt really grown up. Driving an emergency ambulance with sirens and flashing lights, arriving at the scenes of terrible accidents and major disasters. It doesn’t get much more grown up than that, believe me. But to my older colleagues, with their additional ten or twenty years of experience, I wasn’t considered to be in the least bit grown up.

Much later, I read about not losing your ‘inner child’. Decades of emergency duties had made me a serious person, someone obsessed with being an adult. I had to try to find that inner child lurking within, or I would be sacrificing a large part of my personality.

It wasn’t easy, I can tell you. But finally, at the age of sixty-nine, I might have found that balance.

I discovered what it means to be grown up.

56 thoughts on “Growing Up

  1. I first felt the ‘breeze’ of being a grown up when I was nine, and my grandmother died as I traveled with my mom to make it to grandma ‘in time’ – – nothing to say, and I gazed upon my mom’s stricken face and grief, and didn’t want to ask her for anything – nor was there anything I could do for her to ease her pain, but just sit by, witness it. No help to be had – not big enough, smart enough, old enough to understand what, if anything, could be done. When I felt I fully became grown up? Was nearly 30 years later, when my Dad expressed his wishes, and I waded through them best as I could, knowing, he didn’t have the strength or energy, to be my wise counsel as I explored ways to ‘get what needs be done’ without breaking from my own grief at him soon being gone. Every loss I have witnessed/stood beside, of another, or myself, is the slow working towards the goal of being ‘grown up’ – and yet? I still hope I never, ever, fully ‘grow up’ because, I don’t want to lose the hope of possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. For myself? At the darkest, most unknowing times, and yet the very times that bestowed the best gifts, overall? The hope of possibilities was the only thing that kept me going in order to survive long enough to see the gifts bestowed in the dark times.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think we ever really grow up but we do mature. That inner child still needs to have fun though. I do believe in personal growth though but it’s connected to self-awareness. Is that growing up? Is growing up based on other people’s opinion of you? Are there people out there who we think never grow up? I remember a client telling me I was the most “adulty” adult she had had ever met. The client meant it as a compliment but it threw me a bit. We were doing work around anger management and raising self-awareness of how individuals react. Hard to know Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Obviously I am only talking about my own experience here, Siobhain. But I tried for so long to always be grown up, I lost something on the way. Now I am much older, and don’t care so much what others think of me, I have managed to let some of the childish me back into my life. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jennie. The post-war working-class London society I was brought up in was big on being a ‘man’. I had to get away from city life to realise I had left a part of myself there. It took a while for it to come back.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Life is so tricky. We spend all this time wanting to grow up because we know it means future privileges and opportunities (driving, dating, voting, owning a home, etc.) Then one day, the script flips, and we long to be younger again. Oh well, that’s not happening. We might as well make the best of things. You’ve got a few years on me, Pete. I’m 62.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I felt nearly grown up while attending the first two years of college, and fully grown up during my junior year abroad in Nice, France. I had to find a place to stay, manage my own finances, and be totally responsible for myself in every way.

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  5. it must have been painful to have those two words thrown at you at a very young age. i believe it is best to have a balance of being grown up while keeping the childlike in you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh how I love this piece Pete! I can just imagine you as a serious young boy wishing away your youth! So glad you have reclaimed your inner child. I believe that is why I write? She slips in between the lines, likes to hide and seek in the words, I think I can allow her some play? Warmly, C

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I feel like I grew up fast after learning of my mother’s terminal cancer. I joined the Air Force right out of high school. I did adult things, but I am not sure I really felt like I had grown up completely. I think the biggest disservice we can put on young people is to tell them to ‘grow up’. I am sorry you had to hear that. I was fortunate to have mentors in business who embraced my desire to learn and helped me reach my potential. Now as the oldest generation in my family, however, I sometimes feel ill equipped to take on the role as the sage advisor and keeper of wisdom. Great topic, Pete. One worth exploring.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Maggie. I don’t have children, but if I did, I wouldn’t tell them to grow up at least until they had a job! 🙂 Childhood passes too quickly as it is, especially in the modern world of social media.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Well said. This is utterly gut wrenching, and completely relatable.
    How many people who have walked this earth could say that they obsessed over adulthood as children, just to see that “perfect” year fly by in a blink?
    I am also on a quest to salvage some of that childhood personality that has been burried. Thank you for the reminder to not loose our youthful spirit!🌺

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Being a grown-up is not all it’s made out to be. I was married and had a child by the time I was 17 so I feel I had the responsibilities of an adult for a long time. But most people think I´m still 12 and that´s Ok with me.

    Liked by 4 people

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