It’s all that and even more than its cracked up to be; that state of being or age called adulthood. Just like the character in the Tom Hanks film “Big”, when little I longed to become an adult and have the freedom to choose. I want to drink a real cup of tea and even-heaven forbid-coffee!When I became an adult, a wife, mother, employee, I soon came to appreciate the other side of maturity, self-responsibility. I could no longer blame the girl down the road..you know the one who is always to blame. But it doesn’t have to be a state when the sense of adventure and impish joy of the inner child is repressed, loaded down by the responsibilities of adult life, but one in which your adult awareness and logic can support him or her. Recently I have heard of a number of situations in which people have abrogated their adult responsibilities, seeking to be cared for in a parental way by others.
The first situation was about a “Boomerang” daughter, someone who had left home and decided it was too difficult to survive on her own, in this case both financially and practically. She bragged long and loud on the inner city bus about how great it was to come home to her clothes washed and ironed and dinner on the table. The second case I heard of was an ex partner, in between relationships and work who took up the kind offer to stay with his ex and their kids. Initially grateful, and promising to pay his way financially and in other ways, the providing partner noticed that quite quickly, he seemed to be regressing to a child like state. At age forty he was at home for most of the day yet was quite happy for others to do cooking and cleaning, namely, the ex who worked full time and cared for his kids. After two months, the kindly partner asserted herself and asked him to go.
These cases have led me to ponder on the joys of being an adult and while we all have “doona days” when all we want to do is crawl under the blankets with a tub of ice cream, there are distinct advantages to the adult life.
1. Adulthood is all about being an individual. You get to choose in most aspects of life. From little things like the type of shampoo you use to big you make decisions about what is best for or pleases you. And no-one, parent or partner can do that for you.
2. Growing up is about learning about the many aspects of yourself .Taking responsibility for yourself, particularly in challenging situations, shows you what you are made of, not what others have told you you are. And of course while other can lead, only you can be a midwife to your potential selves.
3. You get to travel under your own steam. Travel, as we know, unless its done in a group where all decisions are made on your behalf, helps you grow up. You move outside your circle of family and friends and develop new ways of being with others and on your own.
4.You can reshape an unhappy past. As Gloria Steinhem said “Its never too late to have a happy childhood” If you started out in a difficult family, health or financial situation which caused traumatic imprinting, you can heal it. In fact, only your adult self can make that decision and take full responsibility, for the healing process. As an adult, you engage with those parts of yourself, the wounded inner child, the victim, the family scapegoat and lead them along the healing path.
5. You get to shape the future. If you don’t like how the world is at present, you can create a new one. While the creative inner child can help with the shaping of desires, only the adult part can really give sufficient sustenance and guidance to your dreams and goals, and participate with others who may also desire to see similar changes. As Gandhi is reputed to have said “Be the change you want to see in the world.
6. You become powerful. Making decisions, expanding your thinking, becoming aware of and aligning with others, choosing your daily mood, in other words creating the life you desire is the very best place to be, no matter what your age.
7. You learn to value difference without have to convert or convince others of the rightness of your views. This allows you to feel comfortable being with people of all different backgrounds, races, religions and groups. I grew up Catholic at a time when it was a cardinal sin to enter a Protestant church. Until age 17, every person I knew was Catholic.My uncle was dissuaded from marrying the love of his life because she was Anglican. Yet there was one nun, a teacher who, when anti-protestant, well anti anything not Catholic stated ” If you cant be with people who are of a different faith and not lose your own, then your faith was not very strong to start off with”. My adolescent self remembered his wise saying and let it guide me into adulthood. As the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says ” The truth you believe in and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life”. That doesn’t mean that beliefs or ideas or thinking is a problem; the stubborn attitude of having to have things be a particular way, grasping on to our beliefs and thoughts, all these cause the problems.”
So as we see in our world today not everyone over the age of 21 is an adult.
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