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Growing Up: A Lie

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

We’ve all heard it before, “it’s time to grow up, to put your big girl pants on, get your life together, take up responsibility and become an adult.”

We all expect it to happen at some point: We’ll wake up one day, eyes bright, sparkling with knowledge, and live out the rest of our lives with purpose. It’s what we’ve been taught, it’s what we’ve internalized and then we wait. On the outside this system of thought is flawless, you reach a certain age and voila- you’ve become an income earning, house owning, tax paying citizen in society. In a utopian world this would work perfectly- everybody would get the job they wanted, the money they needed, a nice family to support them and everything else that is assumed to be a requisite of adulthood.

Except, there seems to be a gap in the application; On the ground level, in the real world, it seldom works like that. The supposedly natural transition from teendom to adulthood, which apparently comes with time, seems to actually be a long and winding road with no near end. It’s a minefield, a hurricane, a vertical climb and a lifelong process.

Why is there an expectation to “grow up”? Why should we feel all this immense pressure to have our lives together when we don’t even feel like our lives have truly begun? Why is becoming an adult synonymous with “sober up”, “stop having fun” and “get serious''? Who are we pleasing by getting the “right” job, doing the “right” things, and living the “right” way? And is it really worth it when your adultness is measured by economic and social success? The anxiety and inferiority that festers in our heads, telling us we’ll never be an Adult-adult, is crippling.

It’s gone too far. The need to be that one in a million, success story; as people fight like rabid dogs to get first place in a competition that doesn’t really matter, When the passage to becoming a respected adult is getting a hundred on every exam- becoming that 0.1 percentile of people who can confidently say “I made it”, “I grew up”.

It’s time to stop assuming that every single one of us walks the same path. That we all turn eighteen and magically transform into grown-ups. The law might say so but our bodies, minds and souls might not. There can’t possibly be anything wrong with that if millions of people are on the same boat.

Maybe growing up isn’t real and instead of striving for adulthood, we should accept that life is a journey with no end point. So, instead of searching for perfection, we should madly, wildly and with the utmost vigor search for ourselves.

Credit: “How to Adult” by Resenate-

Credit: Marloes De Vries-

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