Growing up. Not all we thought it’d be.
When we were kids it seemed like growing up and getting older would be so very different. We wanted so badly to grow up, and for good reasons I think. We wanted it so we could live out the things we only dreamed of. So we could go out and do all the things our parents and other grown ups told us we couldn’t do yet because we were little. For some, those dreams were to be astronauts or firemen, ballerinas or president. We had no reservations about if we could, or if it was realistic. We wanted to grow up so we could spend our days enjoying all the things our big little hearts could imagine up. Somewhere sometime recently I heard someone say- or maybe I read it as a corny cliche somewhere, but either way it was a question that prompted me to really think. The question was, “Have you grown up to be someone the kid version of yourself would be proud of?” If I’m honest, I’m not sure. When I was a kid I wore my heart on my sleeve. I loved every single person, and animals too. I didn’t walk around with big castle walls built around my heart, hiding from anyone who wanted to get close. I was passionate and sensitive, kind and tender-hearted. I wanted to help people, and I had a particular care for the castaways. I had perfected the art of random acts of kindness, constantly trying to leave goodies and surprises for friends and teachers and strangers alike. I was a collector then, I fell in love with every tiny, shiny treasure I could find. I was generous. And at 4 years old I was lecturing the grown ups in my life about how “patience is a virtue.” It seems I was a lot wiser then than now. Maybe not, but my priorities definitely seemed to be in better order. The biggest things on my mind were playing outside with my friends, and loving them in big ways. Giving more than I had to give. And getting my hands on all the greatest Pokemon cards and cutest Ty beanie babies.
I’d like to ask, What changed? but I don’t think any of us are naive about it. This world is far too good at robbing the innocence out of every good thing. And in some ways, for that very reason, it’s a good thing that we aren’t still of our tender, childlike minds. But it seems we come into this world so pure, and clean, and good. Well-intentioned little dreamers with incredible minds, and lovely hearts. And somewhere along the way, the things we are after shift. We learn about greed, and money, selfishness, and survival. We experience hurt, we learn to lie, and we grapple with trying to understand death. So yea, growing up is definitely not what we pictured.
I don’t mean for this post to be a mournful one. Or something that makes you want to do irresponsible things like blow all your money on vintage trading cards, or invest in a mint-condition teddy bear collection for the sake of nostalgia and all things childlike. Really, don’t do that. But maybe the next time you think to tell a white lie, or yell at your barista for giving you one pump of vanilla instead of two, think of the kid version of yourself standing at your hip with a confused and disappointed look. Think of who you wanted to be then, and who you’ve become. Hold those people up next to one another, take a good honest look, and make right the things that have been tainted. We can’t change what the world has done to us since then, and we can’t undo the hurt or lies, but we can choose to be a person we’d be proud to know. Be a person you’d be proud to know.