“We live like rock stars, dance on every bar
This is who we are, I don’t think we’ll ever change
They say “just grow up”, but they don’t know us”
– Avril Lavigne
A phrase we’ve heard countless times over the span of our lives.
We either hear it when we’re supposedly being immature.
When we’re not acting appropriately.
Or when we ourselves are wishing to be grown up.
To rush onto the next chapter of our lives.
Whether we like it or not, it’s a phrase that wiggles its way into our lives when we wanna hear it the least.
Another favourite that’s used is, “Act your age, not your shoe size”.
Being a size UK size 35, and a renewed home body who’d rather watch Netflix all day than go out, I’m closer to my shoe size maturity-wise than my actual twenty-something age.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up.
I love doing my make-up.
I love going out with my friends.
And I love taking those insta-worthy pictures at fabulous locations.
But I have my moments when I would just rather not.
For me, it’s all fun and games at the plan-making stages of going out.
Everyone’s super excited, coordinating outfits, choosing a location and choosing a date.
And that’s the tricky part, when the date is picked in advance.
WAY in advance.
A week later and you’re super excited still.
2 weeks later? The excitement starts to wane.
3 weeks later? You start looking for ways to get out of it.
So call me spontaneous, but you’re more likely to get me to go out if it’s impromptu rather than planed.
That way, being the slow learner that I claim to be, my brain has less time to figure out ways to get out if it.
I’m also usually more up for going out drinking at a fancy bar, or dinner at a restaurant, or brunch rather than a club.
Does that mean I’m grown up?
I’ll be honest, once I became legally allowed to party and club, I did.
I went to every party, every club event, [and being from the Caribbean] every fête I could afford to attend.
I drunkenly sang along to the words of every song I knew.
I pretended to be the cool mysterious girl, to pick up guys even.
I also turned down my nose at the 30 and 40 year olds that were in the crowds.
“Don’t you have kids at home?”
“What a creep trying to pick up girls half his age…”
“Aww… look at the old people trying to dance”
All thoughts I had in my head at the time
(Man, I was a judgemental little one wasn’t I?)
Yeah, look at these old people arriving just when the night’s getting started while I was there early trying to squeeze in before 12 so I’m in free.
While they’re in their own booth, I’m trying to sit as far away from the guy who just puked on the floor.
While they’ve got bottle service, I’m trying to drink as many drinks as I can before the free drinks are cut off.
While they’re burning calories dancing their night away, I can barely move in a skin-tight dress and heels that are so uncomfortable.
While they arrived with their friends or their significant other(s), I came with the shuttle filled with people I barely knew or was just getting to know; trying to find myself a cute guy.
In that scenario, who’s really the grown up? I doubt it’s me.
So what’s the definition of being grown up?
Google tells me that it’s:
“1) To grow toward or arrive at full stature or physical or mental maturity : to progress from childhood toward adulthood.
2) To become an adult”
Do you fit either of those definitions? I doubt I do.
I stopped growing when I was 21, so at 5’2 I’ve reached my physical maturity in that sense.
Mental maturity? That’s debatable.
Am I an adult? On paper I appear to be.
I mean, I am over 21.
I have my first degree and am currently working on my Masters in Counselling Psychology.
And my resume would say I’ve got impressive working experience.
Never mind that half of it is me sugar-coating it.
Being grown-up is about making judgement calls like that. The call to alter certain details.
But like I said in Now, everything looks good on paper.
What does it mean to be an adult?
To pay bills? I don’t do that, well not to the extent that a real-life adult does.
To get your own place? I’m currently writing this from the comfort of my mother’s house.
To have a job? I had one, but now I’m an unemployed student.
To have your own car? I do, but it was a graduation gift from my parents.
To be married with kids? I’ve just made a year with my boyfriend, marriage is a long way off.
While I may not do any of those things, I think a defining characteristic of adulthood is being able to own up to your mistakes.
Which I begrudgingly started doing.
In the past, even on Social Media; especially on Social Media, I pretended to be something I’m not.
I pretended to be happy.
I pretended to have it all together.
I pretended that everything was perfect in my life.
I didn’t use bad language.
I didn’t dress risqué.
I used Taylor Swift lyrics as my captions.
I acted a part.
A part that didn’t feel right, and a part that I simply did not understand.
That made it very easy to be influenced.
What’s another good ol’ saying?
“If you stand for nothing, you’d fall for everything?”
Well call me clumsy because I fell for it.
The bad guys.
The bad choices.
The bad hair days.
The bad outfit choices.
I did a lot in the time where I didn’t know who I was but I knew I was pretending the be grown up.
[Yes, incase you’re wondering, I’ll be writing about it all. All in good time.]
And for a really long while I lied about it all.
“Didn’t you and what’s his name date?” Nope.
“Didn’t you get drunk and fall on the dance floor of that club?” Who me? Nah, must be someone who looks like me.
“Didn’t you kiss that guy at that party?” Never.
“Didn’t you get a B in that course?” What! Me? Get anything less than an A? How appalling.
I denied everything, because no-one likes the girl who people talk about right?
That girl doesn’t get a happy ending.
Things never work out for that girl.
At least that’s what I’ve been told.
So I lied.
I spun every story.
I avoided every truth.
And did it get me anywhere?
Did it make me feel like the grown up I was trying to be?
No, no it did not.
What it did was make me feel ashamed of even trying to find out who I really am.
It’s insane that I gave idiot guys a second chance but for a really long time denied my own self a chance right?
I never said I’m the smartest graduate student.
In fact, I deny that too.
But now, some odd years later, I’m being truthful.
Whether it’s with each post, or simply being honest in my reality. I’m trying my very best not to lie.
I’m here saying that I’ve screwed up (Many, many times).
I’ve done things that I’m not proud of, but learning to admit to.
I’m also learning that not to judge others just because their sins are different from mine.
I say learning, because sometimes it gets very hard to be that non-judgemental person.
Especially if someone’s your friend.
It’s really hard to tell a friend that they’re screwing up.
You’re supposed to have their back.
Be supportive of their choices.
You’re not their parent to berate them when they’ve done wrong.
Most days I’m torn between,
“They are grown ass individuals and I didn’t give birth to them, so I’m not responsible”.
And, “What if this turns out badly and I feel terrible for not speaking up, I’ve gotta do something”
The what if scenario is a terrible, terrible trap.
Firstly, because it’s always the worst-case scenarios in your head that you run through.
It’s always what if they end up dead in a ditch or kidnapped.
Not what if they get their heart broken, or they date the wrong guy.
Secondly, because you speaking up will be because you’re trying to absolve your own guilt.
In that scenario, you’re not the good guy.
You’re not the superhero coming to save the day.
In that scenario, you’re not thinking of your friend.
You’re thinking of yourself.
Personally, I think the worst part of being grown up, of being an adult is trying to force that adultness onto another person.
Most times we feel that because we’ve learnt from our mistakes, we’re obligated to make others learn from them too.
How many times has this happened to you:
Someone’s telling you about an event in their lives, and for a bit you’re nodding politely, taking it all in.
Then, some part of their story triggers something; it makes you remember something exactly like that that you went through.
You then, pioneer the entire conversation,
“That was exactly like the time that [insert situation here] happened to me.”
You launch into your scenario.
What happened, how you handled it, and most importantly the lesson you learnt from it.
A lesson you feel compelled to share.
This has happened to me more times that I’d like to admit.
Only here’s the thing, what this person is going through isn’t exactly like what we went through.
Because they are not us.
We are not them.
The circumstances are entirely different.
Their actions completely different.
But we’re only human, and we’re a compassionate species.
Take me for example.
I’ve mentioned that I’m not perfect.
That I’ve made mistakes.
That I’m admitting them.
Add Psychology into that cocktail and like a Strawberry Daiquiri with too much vodka in it, I feel obligated to help you work through what ever problems you have.
But, things don’t always work that way.
Person’s can’t always learn from your mistakes.
People need to make their own mistakes and figure out how to solve them on their own.
The second to last thing someone needs to hear when telling you about the inner workings of their lives is the inner workings of your life.
Sometimes trying to learn from someone else’s mistakes can like copying the answers for a test, only you didn’t read the question correctly and wrote your answer under the wrong question.
It just doesn’t work.
You’ve gotta be the one to figure it out sometimes.
But that doesn’t mean you’ve gotta do it alone.
It’s okay to reach out to friends.
Word of advice if a friend reaches out to you?
The last thing someone needs when telling you about the inner workings of their lives?
And eye roll paired with, “Oh just grow up! You’re still making this mistake?”
Don’t pretend that you yourself on a way to learning your lesson didn’t make the same mistake once or twice.
Don’t pretend to be a more adult-y adult.
As hard as it may be, don’t try to make it all about you.
And I don’t mean that in a bad way.
It’s never meant in a bad way, yet the first time I was told, “It’s not about you”?
I got offended, even though I had no reason to be.
I think at the time I was just upset that I didn’t get to finish my story.
While sometimes we may be the same age.
In the same class.
In the same friend group.
We’re all at different stages in our lives.
We’re all at different stages in entering adulthood.
We’re simply all different.
We’re just lucky enough to have a few similarities biding us together, making us friends.
We all want the best for each other.
We all want to help each other.
We’d all like to grow up together.
But I think sometimes, the most important thing that we forget is that while we can be the best friend to our favourite humans; there are certain aspects of growing up that are solo adventures.
We can’t always be there to help, and it sucks.
But part of growing up?
It’s learning how to be able to survive on your own.
It’s being able to hear what others are telling you, understand it, but still have the freedom of making your own choices when it comes to your own life.
Because as much as we ask for advice, and we like to give advice.
At the end of the day, whether we follow that advice or not; we’re the only ones that can claim responsibility for our actions.
Do we always like the results of our actions, of our choices, of our decisions?
No, we do not.
But that’s adulthood; you win some, you loose some.
Most importantly, you learn some.