My grandmother, to this day I imagine, refuses to say she's old. She's 82. I used to think it was strange because I was attached to age and what the number of years you've been alive was supposed to mean. But she'd shake her head back and forth in defiance. "You're only as old as you feel, or act."
What does it mean to grow up?
I associate growing up with maturity and maturity as taking responsibility. I have a natural bent toward being responsible, but most days I don't feel grown up. I don't feel mature. The title of this post, for instance, reminds me of misheard Pussycat Dolls lyrics, "When I grow up, I wanna have boobies!" They don't actually sing boobies, and I know that.
I'm proof that age alone doesn't necessarily equate maturity. In that vein, I've also witnessed someone 40 years my senior throw a temper tantrum worst than a child and I've been schooled with genuine wisdom from the mouths of teenagers, the young kids with old souls. The more you live, the more experience you bank, sure, but to me, age only determines when you're "allowed" or supposed to do certain things according to the government, and society.
When I was a kid I imagined life at 36, as a grown-up, dramatically different than my current reality. For one, I thought I'd be taller. My love of animals was all-consuming and I planned to be a veterinarian. So as a 36-year-old veterinarian, I would be married with a one-story house in Texas on a small plot of land, adjacent to a field of wildflowers and grass to lounge in when I wasn't making house calls. I'd have a variety of pets: multiple cats and dogs, horses, some chickens and cows, goats, sheep, and maybe a wild animal I'd domesticated all on my own, like a bear or a cheetah. I'd have a couple of children. I didn't know back then it was okay not to have children.
I imagined that, as an old woman of 36 with almost half my life complete, if I'm lucky, I'd have accomplished all the things I needed to accomplish in order to be whatever I wanted to be. Turns out, figuring out what you want to be "when you grow up" takes a little more time for some of us to identify. I have been changing my mind every few years about what I want to be.
Being a Grown Up
I may not seem like one at all times, but I am definitely a grown up. And I actually like aging.
I'm not under the impression I'll ever "arrive", that one day I'll accomplish everything I've sought out to accomplish and can declare myself Grown Up with an impenetrable stake in the ground. I catch myself when I reference my past as The Good Ol' Days. I just started doing it this year, actually, and I suppose we all do it at some point. It's not that the days preceding right now were better, they were just different.
Growing up - and this is my own definition - is more about willingness; it's being open to change of all forms as we age and approaching change with an unending desire to learn and move forward. If I believe life is about the journey, not the destination, which I do, then there is no idea or belief or circumstance or situation I should marry myself to because change is the only sure thing.