Many adolescents maintain the erroneous belief that turning eighteen is tantamount to becoming a grown-up. I take issue with this because oftentime these self-declared grown-ups continue to engage in juvenile antics even after surpassing the ‘golden age’ of parental liberation. By the same token, I have also encountered Mothers and Fathers so relentlessly bent on nurturing their self-indulgent lifestyle that they outright refuse to abandon their irresponsible conduct, despite the harm it does to their children. Rather than focus on inner growth and change, they stay forever dedicated to the pursuit of infantile ambitions like fast cash, cheap thrills, and carousing the night away. I realize that everybody matures at his or her own pace, but to automatically equate a ‘magical’ number (e.g. 18 or 21) with maturity and adulthood is not only false, but it empowers those who still cling to childish ways by sanctioning their continued irresponsibility. It is therefore my belief that being grown is a state of mind, and not merely a number. This leads me to my third lesson of change:
LESSON #3: TO BE GROWN, YOU MUST ACT GROWN
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV)
What makes you a grown-up? Reaching a certain age? Moving out and paying your own rent? Acquiring and maintaining a full-time job? Getting married and having children? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a grownup is defined as one who is “fully developed and mature; not childish or immature.” This translates to three basic principles:
- Maintain a mature attitude.
- Fulfill your responsibilities.
- Take accountability for your mistakes.
Maintain a mature attitude.
A grown-up should always strive to exude a mature and professional demeanor, no matter what the circumstances. Granted, we all have an irreverent child bebopping and scatting deep within the inner bowels of our soul. Nevertheless, a genuine grown-up will always at the very least try to conduct him or her self in the way most appropriate to the situation at hand. If this means drinking less so as to not embarrass yourself, then so be it. Or it could simply involve keeping a tight lid on your temper so that you do not spew a barrage of unnecessary insults at an irritating boob. No matter what it is that is troubling you, you are nonetheless expected to carry yourself in a way befitting to a professional, mature, and grown adult.
Fulfill your responsibilities.
A grown-up is somebody who has reached a point in their life at which point they are able to rationally weigh various potential outcomes and then act based on what is most advantageous to not only them themselves, but to those whom they must care for on a daily basis. This requires having enough sense to make the right decisions. For instance, suppose you just got paid and your rent and bills are due. Which will you do first – pay your expenses or go buy a new set of shoes? The grown-up decision would be to pay your expenses and then if you have any money leftover, perhaps go purchase a new set of shoes. The most wise decision, however, would be to first make a budget and then spend according to the guidelines you have set forth for yourself.
Take accountability for your actions.
Unlike a child, a grown-up cannot skirt around the truth by letting lies and self-denial cloud their judgment. This necessitates confronting problems head-on with an honest and dignified approach. If you make a mistake, then first be prepared to apologize to any parties whom you may have offended. Second, attempt to ameliorate the situation by utilizing diplomacy and intellect to establish a suitable solution. Most importantly, do not deny either your blunder or its ill effects on others. A truly grown man or woman is unafraid to take full accountability for their mistakes, a path that remains incredibly difficult for those to whom humility and modesty don’t come easy. Just remember the old saying, “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” FYI… to be modest entails, “enduring injury with patience and without resentment.”
Sadly, fulfilling these three basic principles doesn’t come so easily for everybody.
Take for instance the case of Mandy. Mandy is 19 and currently resides in a residence hall at the local University. As it is her freshmen year at college, Mandy feels that attending class and studying hard aren’t as important as ‘living in the moment’ by going out every night to drink, dance, and date young and hot guys. Although she is aware of the danger her reckless behavior poses to her body, Mandy doesn’t care because she just wants to have fun. As the semester progresses, her grades decline, she becomes depressed, and she eventually loses it and hurls a vulgar rant at one of her Professors. She is immediately expelled from college and so she decides to forgo studying in factor of getting a job so that she can make the money necessary to afford her frugal and ‘party-oriented’ lifestyle. Does this sound familiar or far-fetched? As hard as it may be to believe, this is actually a very common occurrence.
Consider also the story of a young man named Darnell. Darnell is 23, lives with his pregnant baby-mother, has two additional mistresses who are pregnant, works less than 20 hours a week, and is recognized on the block as ‘the bum.’ Darnell is so lazy and unwilling to handle his responsibilities that not only does his baby-mother perform all house duties including traditional male roles such as dish-washing and taking out the trash, but he also happens to be a marijuana fiend who squanders every available dollar on the almighty Blunt. Darnell’s primary goals in life are to ‘stay high’, ‘fuck bitches’, and ‘hustle hard.’ If Darnell continues with his wild and negligent lifestyle, he’s likely to end up either in prison, dead, or homeless. Does Darnell sound familiar to you? I imagine that a ‘Darnell’ exists on every corner of every neighborhood in America.
Let’s also look at the life of Priya. Prya is a 26 year old, at home professional with low confidence and the inability to handle confrontations well. When she comes face-to-face with a dilemma, Priya scurries into a corner and throws up her fists in fear. Rather than take accountability for her mistakes and attempt to alleviate conflicts, Priya instead prefers the solace of being alone and therefore not having to deal with others. When people attempt to advise Priya on how to conduct herself more appropriately, she screams “FOUL” and lashes out with crude and improper remarks. Priya has dedicated herself to a lonely by-herself existence because she would rather avoid humanity than change herself to fit others’ expectations. This example actually relates very much to me. I happen to hate the majority of society. Just because I’m writing a blog on being grown doesn’t mean that I myself am actually grown :-D.
In conclusion, it can be surmised that many purported adults are in fact adolescents trapped in the body of a grown-up. My hope today is not to chastise or belittle you. Rather, I hope to encourage you to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. Are you doing everything you can to be the best man or woman that you can be? Are you truly adhering to the traits of an adult, or are you just sliding through life in a half-ass attempt to get by? It’s up to you to decide how you want to live your life. Look, I don’t care if you are a Doctor, a stripper, or a carnival clown. My only concern is that you put forth your best effort to radiate those qualities inherent in a righteous, grown, and mature adult. Peace and God Bless!