At some time around the age of 30, I remember being in the car on the way to Dorset and having a lengthy, amusing and interesting conversation with some girlfriends about “when do we become grown-ups?”. Because, very obviously, we really weren’t at all sure whether we were there yet.
I believe our collective conclusion was that you most likely go through the change when you become a parent and you’re forced into being responsible for someone other than yourself.
As an alternative, my dad once famously declared to me that you’re only a grown-up when you have off-street parking. In which case, there are many octogenarians living in London who haven’t yet made it yet!
So now, at the grand old age of 38 and 2/3’s, I find myself neither with responsibility for a small human nor a driveway – does this mean that I’m STILL not a grown-up??
In case you hadn’t guessed, I’ve always had a bit of a thing about this.
For whatever reason, I’ve never felt like I’m truly living the real life of a fully fledged, legitimate grown-up.
More recently, I know that my non-parent status has become an even bigger part of this as I find myself, on a weekly basis, involved in complex and highly grown-up conversations about where my friends should be sending their kids to secondary school.
Jeez, a part of me feels only just out of secondary school myself!
A different view
(and we all know how much I love one of them)
Then yesterday I was listening to this interview with Tim Urban on my favourite podcast (The One You Feed) and the subject of being a grown-up was mentioned. Of course, my little ears (yes, weirdly I have a big face but relatively little ears) pricked up.
Tim said, and I quote/paraphrase, “there is a concept of being a grown-up but it doesn’t correlate with age…..it depends on how much you’ve grown and how in control you are of your animal side, how aware you are of your animal side……..being conscious of and in control of your inner self.”
Now we’re talking.
He goes on to talk about ‘the consciousness staircase’: level 1 being when you’re mainly controlled by your animal self, you’re unconscious, you operate on auto-pilot; level 2 being when you have awareness of both yourself and the human condition from which we all both benefit and suffer; level’s 3 & 4 go pretty existential so have a listen if that’s your bag.
People stuck on level 1 don’t know they’re there. They don’t even know there is a level 1. Let alone that there are levels 2, 3 and 4 which they could move to. These folk on level 1 are the real non-grown-ups.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we all spend time on level 1 – we can’t help it. But someone who has the ability and awareness to spend some of their time on level 2, will also sometimes be able to catch themselves when they find they’ve unconsciously slipped back down the proverbial staircase.
Those of us (yes, I can confidently say I’m one of them) who know about level 2 and choose/try hard to spend some of our time there are the grown-ups.
Daddy, at last. I’ve made it, I’m officially a grown-up.
Or am I?
So I listen to podcasts while I’m running. The two are now synonymous for me. Bizarrely, I find myself thinking that I actually want to go for a run so that I get to listen to a podcast.
I find my thinking gets really stimulated by both running and the podcasts so, not surprisingly, I end up having a lot of (what I consider to be) my best ideas and insights while I’m doing the two simultaneously. I love it, it gives me a real buzz. But the downside is that I do have to keep stopping to write notes to make sure I don’t end up forgetting all these nuggets. Who cares – running has now become so much more about my mental wellbeing than the physical.
So yesterday, while running and marvelling at the realisation that Tim had given me about my ‘grown-up-edness’, my brain took this thinking to the next level.
I started musing on the word grown.
It sounds to me like the effort and the change has already happened. You’re finished. It’s over. Complete. Job done.
Finished? Oh no, no, no, no. no.
I am nowhere near done yet. I have so much more to do. To learn. So many new and improved versions of myself to curiously and joyfully evolve into.
In that moment I completely changed my mind.
I am not a grown-up.
I can’t be a grown-up because I have so much more growing that I want to do.
I don’t want or need to be a grown-up until that fateful moment when I take my last breath.
And not a moment sooner.
Daddy, I’ve changed my mind. Even if one day I have off-street parking, I won’t want to be a grown-up.
Hey there, in case you didn’t know, I’m Hana and I could be your Personal Mindset Coach.
I’m occasionally known to my clients as ‘the lovely stranger’.
I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, to choose a different lens, to find different ways of thinking, being and doing – so that you can get out of your head and just get on with living a bloody great life.
If you’d like some support exploring this or other fascinating things about you further, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a cuppa some time to find out if we might like each other enough to work together.
If you like what you’ve read and want more then how’s about downloading my free ‘Where’s your head at?’ ebook – get it right here.
Or if you want to join me in a little experiment to feel more grateful for what you already have then come and join my #gratitude365 Facebook Group.