What does it mean to grow up?
Reflections on the act of transitioning into adulthood.
Several years ago, when we moved out of our moldy fully furnished house and into a nice, clean and dry home, we thought we’ve finally made it in life. It was our chance to figure out our own vibe and set up our own spaces.
I binged on YouTube desk tours and picturesque scenes that promised the perfect balance between creativity, minimalism and positive chi from the north.
I bought cushions, fancy salt and pepper grinders, throws, bookcases and bookshelves — all in the name of aesthetics.
But then aesthetics got in the way.
Because we made a critical mistake. We still had all the baggage and clutter from our previous house, brought forward with us from our former lives. He had clothes dating back to the 90s. I had school books going back to my grade school days.
Our ‘memories’ ended up smearing our new space and turned it into a hoarder’s nest. Our past cluttered our present and no matter how many times we attempted to tidy it up, it would always fall back into disarray.
And it wasn’t just our physical environment that fell apart constantly — our lives were doing exactly the same but in parallel.
Run, run, run, as fast as you can
The tale of the gingerbread man is one that we don’t often think about. To many, it’s just a story.
But every story can take a dark turn if you think about it long enough.
Recently, the famous phrase has been rattling in my brain —
run, run, run, as fast as you can
you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!
The issue with society nowadays is that we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking we are smarter, better, and always more right than the other person. We enter into a rat race to be the best, constantly on the move up the different ladders until we hit the invisible ceiling.
We compete, sometimes unconsciously, with strangers rather than figuring out what is actually right for us. We use their lives as the blueprint for our own. We’re always running, thinking we’ve escaped the thing we fear to face — our true reality and selves.
The older we get, the more dissatisfied, empty or hollow we begin to feel until one day, we accept our own personal silliness and discard the perspectives and viewpoints of others in order to properly figure out and form our own opinions.
When does the change happen?
The process of growing up is a process of collecting ideas, personalities and the possessions that reflect our opinions, thoughts, and feelings within a distinctive era.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be an adult. For many, it’s the act of paying your own bills and getting a job. But for me, I feel like there’s more to it than that.
For years, I’ve been paying my own bills but never actually felt like an adult. Even after having my daughter, I still felt like a kid — until recently.
Over the past few months, I’ve come to the conclusion that to be an adult is having the ability to freely think, evaluate ideas and come to conclusions without the fear of judgment and influence for approval from others.
It means to be truly independent — not just on a financial level. Getting a job and paying your own bills is not that hard once you get into the system. The ability to think, grow into oneself as a person and the formation of one’s character is not usually one that’s advertised by society.
To be an adult is the task of figuring out how to break away from the narratives and thought systems prescribed for us and figuring out who you are and what you stand for.
There’s no denying that there’s a segment of Millennials that are taking longer than most to grow up on a mental level. In comparison to the generations before us — we’re slow.
Our teenage years are extended as we try to figure out and navigate a much more complex world than any of our parents have faced. As many of us start to emerge from the chaos by discarding the noise, we are the cohort that appreciates minimalism for its lack of bombarding us with expectations and opinions.
Minimalism is a philosophy as much as it is a physical manifestation of our desires for a less complicated existence. Minimalism is the reaction against the persistent commercialization of everything — from our thoughts and opinions to the thoughts and opinions of others.
What I’ve uncovered about minimalism is that it’s not about how many spoons you’ve got, or having just 10 items in your wardrobe. Rather, it’s the conscious choice to consistently choose what is important to you.
What people get wrong about minimalism is that they think it’s a numbers game. Rather, it’s about keeping the things that are necessary in order to give you the mental space to be your true self.
The task of growing up is the act of letting go of the multiple personalities we try to be all at once for the approval of others. Minimalism is one of the philosophies that many of us are using to get us there.
Despite what everyone keeps telling me, I don’t think that real adulthood is based on age. Rather, it’s the transition from the training wheels of echoing popular opinion to echoing opinions that you internally agree with and believe in.
It’s the act and willingness to accept that you might be wrong, that you might get called names and labeled for not going with the flow or picking the right words to please your audience.
Reality is complex, faceted and highly opinionated. To me, being an adult is having the ability to shape our own reality rather than have it shaped for us based on the opinions, thoughts and feelings of others.
To me, the transition to true adulthood is an internal journey, an awakening of realization that you, as a person, do have the power to do and believe in whatever you want.