I was married for nearly 25 years. We propagated. We bought furniture, cars, homes. We signed contracts. We divorced. These are things that grown-ups do.
It wasn’t until I was on my own again, and found that I had to “rely on the kindness of strangers” (OMG the drama! Can you get any more intense than Blanche DuBois?) that I really felt grown up. Paying my own bills, making my own way. And perhaps most importantly — feeling the freedom to make mistakes that would affect ME directly. Instead of avoiding the possibility of making a mistake because the cost was too great (risking marraige, family, prestige, position), I could simply “float” an idea or course of action — and be completely responsible, the consequences fell to me, and me alone.
“Alone” is an interesting and much-feared word. None of us need ever be alone — and yet, for the big things, I realized, it’s just me. Nobody to come and rescue me, nobody to blame. Just me. That needs to be OK.
And when it is, you’re a grown-up.
Then, relationships can spring from love, fun, and curiosity, rather than need or fear. Actions can be freely chosen, rather than coimpelled, or taken mindlessly because that’s what I’ve always done.
Moshe Feldenkrais called it “maturity.” Not just a physical maturity as a fully functioning, sexual human being — but with the wisdom and experience to choose courses of action that contribute to, rather than detract from, the attainment of one’s desires on the way to happiness. Are drama and discontent the children of youth? Not necessarily. However, to choose happiness — deep, true contentment, satisfacrtion, and happiness — perhaps this is maturity.
Just because one advances in years and wisdom, doesn’t mean that one has to get “set in their ways.” The most truly mature and wise people I have known have retained an inner innocence, a genuine, authentic, playful self that can be called child-like, rather than “childish.” the ability to play, to enjoy, to learn, explore and to MOVE — to combine the best of both worlds — that’s a lot to navigate. Perhaps you have to be a grown-up to aspire to that, let alone to master it.
That’s the inner piece of “being a grown-up” that they don’t tell you about. The inner piece that brings inner peace. Will I ever come to terms that the DOB on my driver’s license indicates that I am MUCH older than I feel? Maybe that’s a good sign.
I like it.