True Tales Tuesdays

{ What Does It Mean to Grow Up? }

photo via Margaret and Leif's blog.

As I sit here, typing away with a little 2 month old I nanny strapped to me in this baby holder thing that has some fancy name I can't remember, I am reflecting on some thoughts I have been spinning around in my head for the past few months. I am thinking about what it means to be a 20 Something, what it means to be an adult, and how often those two things coincide. To me, it seems like it is not often that I meet a 20 something, at least a peer in the 23, 24 in 4 months range, that really embodies my idea of what an adult is. You are legally an adult at how old again? ...yikes.

Aren't real adults supposed to want to be responsible? I feel like responsibility is something that a lot of our parents' generation forgot to mention to my generation. I know that in my own family, my dad was always nagging me to come back down to reality out of Moorea's daydream land and try to focus on my simple responsibilities of folding the laundry, doing the dishes etc. He did a good job of helping me to see the ways in which he was responsible and talked about it often so that I would be aware of what it means to be a grown up and how, even in responsibility there is a lot of freedom. In choosing to make your own important decisions, sticking to your guns in loyalty, wanting to do what is best for yourself and others, you are free from just living the life that everyone else around you projects at you. In being responsible, you are choosing to be truly you and making an honest effort to be real.

For the most part though, I think that my generation just has "I can do whatever I want (aka my whole life can be fun and easy if i want it to and you aren't invited)" at the forefront of their minds. "I can do what I want if I work hard enough. I can achieve whatever I want. I can go where I want to go." I, I, I, me, me, me. "I can rely on me and that is all I need." Good Lord, I have said that to myself a hundred times over. But really Team Born the in the 1980s, Are you totally pumped to go another 70 years just achieving things by yourself, adventuring by yourself? Are you going to be happy at 80 or 90 something saying to just yourself, "Look at what I did." Being a 23 year old stubborn independent lady, I can tell you, I am already tired of doing everything by myself, for myself not considering anyone else being a part of "me" or my journey. Of course every person has a particular amount of responsibility to take for oneself, but really guys, it's not that much compared to what you have to manage as a girlfriend/boyfriend/partner, wife/husband, mother/father, grandmother/grandfather, someone who has others who look up to you and count on you, respect you and admire you.

My generation doesn't think about the elderly unless it has to do with getting fashion inspiration from their vintage clothing. They don't think, oh snap, I will be that old one day. They don't think about how the persons they are forming themselves to be will continue into the years ahead. Where is the awesome respect for wisdom from the elderly these days? We dump our grandparents in old folks homes and visit them every so often and talk to them as if they were children. Man, generation whatever, we are lame sometimes. How do I forget so often to call my grandparents who are so incredible!?!

How many people in their 20s truly consider the future? I'd say that probably a lot think about the future in the financial sense. They think, I need this much money if I am going to life this certain lifestyle. I need this much money if I ever consider getting married in my 30s. I need this much money if I for some crazy reason want a kid or two. Yes, it is responsible to choose to budget and watch your money. But what about managing the person that you are now so that the person you are in the future is more stable, more well rounded, more healthy, more open to the possibilities of the future.

I will be honest, when a few of my best friends got married in their early twenties I secretly scoffed thinking, "HA! I will not go that route for a long long time. How irresponsible of them to get married so young without being prepared!" I choose to be a part of this hip culture that frowns upon people making commitments, choosing to take on major responsibilities. I aid in the prideful and fearful easy cynicism. Yes, the facts are true that divorce rates are ridiculously high, but who am I to judge the potential for divorce for others? I judge others' choices and think my ideas are better. I think I know what is best, all the while really am just projecting the fears of my future onto those around me. Where has that gotten me, and does it really effect anyone else? No, it merely hardens my heart in the ugliest ways while those I judge keep living the lives they have chosen to live.

You know what, this reminds me of something my dad said the other day about religion and spirituality, "there is no belief, only experience." It's true! I can imagine and choose to believe what my future will be like, what my friends marriages are like, but there is no truth or fact until I experience it. What is the point of cynicism. Nothing.

3 of my best friends were married at 19, 21 and 23. That's 5 years of marriage, 3, and 2. They are all joyfully married still. One is having their first baby after 5 years of marriage. They have been financially responsible. And most importantly, they have chosen to shape their personhood around doing what is best to create in each of their individual selves a healthy, honest, intelligent, responsible, and good hearted person. In choosing to love their significant others, they have been vulnerable and humble enough to recognize ways in which they need to improve as emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual people to aid in that other persons life and the relationship they are in. In wanting to love others sincerely, they have loved themselves and taken care of their whole beings.
They have looked at their future, been honest with what they want down the road. They do want love. They do want commitment. And they do want to have, or adopt children one day who they will make new changes and commitments for.
I am proud of them and their foresight into their futures. I still am glad I didn't get married as young as them, but now I realize I am glad simply because I was not ready like they were. I was not thinking ahead. I was still young, still thinking just about me and the momentary things that somewhat satisfy me.

All this to say, I realized the other day that this person that I am right now won't ever completely go away. All the choices I make, the things I say, the things I do effect who I am not only now but in the future as well. That which I make a habit now could end up lasting me a lifetime. It is true that I don't know if I will ever get married, if I will ever have kids. I can't exactly see my future. But it is important for me to recognize that, there is always possibility. And if I all of a sudden tomorrow magically was a mommy, or was a wife, would I be happy with the person that I am, living those roles, in addition to who I am separate from those roles? Would my identity now blend well with those roles that require responsibility? Would my identity right now as an emotional person, an intellectual person, a physical person, a spiritual person enrich the identity of "wife" or "mother?" Or would I feel like a failure, torn, embarrassed by how "me" right now conflicts with "me as mommy" or "me as wife?"

I am tired of crazy parties. I am tired of cynicism.

I will say with honesty, even in my fears and stubborn pride, there is a part of me that wants to be married someday. There is a part of me that wants to be a momma. And if I can see that those natural and beautiful desires are there, whether the light is dim or bright, then I want "me right now" to be aware that what I do and say now could become a part of me as a mommy or wife.

As of this realization this week, I want to work on those things that are easy to get away with right now, those things which are funny or normal seeming right now for an average fun seeking 20 something to be saying or doing. I want to work on those things that are normal for someone my age, but irresponsible and immature for an adult with major responsibilities to be doing or saying. For example, things that set a bad example to kids, like cussing or not setting a good example of eating healthy, being active, being playful without being just plain stupid. Or the things that are bad in accountable relationships like lack of trust or fear of confrontation. The way that you act towards and with your companion and other loved ones is so heavily mimicked by you children. Being an eldest sister of a sister 4 years younger and a sister 9 years younger, being a nanny off and on for almost half my lifetime, I know this.

I want to be true to me, and a part of me now is the me of the future. I want to be responsible to me now, and me in 10, 20, 30, 70 years. I want to be responsible in honor of those in my life right now and those that may or may not be there in the future.

If you would like to meet some incredible, fun, sweet, intelligent, creative, honest, 20 something grown ups, then you should head over to my friends Margaret and Leif's blog Green Beans and Little Things. They are young but wise, hip and not cynical, devoted, loyal and independent and free. The first photo, and this one, are of their family. Marge and Leif just had their second child a few days ago! Baby Beck is just 4 days old. And that pretty little girl is the already fashion savvy 14 mo. old Riley. What an incredible family.

All you 20 somethings who read my blog, does any of this ruminating resonate with you?
Lets grow old together with wisdom, shall we?


Margaret said...

Moorea, you're so sweet and I loved this post! So so true! Being married so young and having kids right away has change the way I see things... Sometimes I'm glad I got married as early as I did.

I appreciate so many things now in ways I never did before. For that I'm grateful!

Allie said...

I really do look forward to the day I get married, and eventually have kids. It's scary, obviously, but it's something that I know I truly want, despite all of the sacrifices I know I'm going to have to make. That's my two cents.

Tim said...

Favorite lyric of 2009: "Do you remember when 21 years was old?" Sick For the Big Sun - Phoenix. That entire song is along the lines of this post, I think.

As someone who got married at 21, I can say that it's difficult sometimes to make other people my/our age understand why you'd ever want to "tie yourself down" with "so much time" to get married. And that's not to say that I don't struggle with the responsibility that being married involves. But life is meant to be lived in community/no man is an island/etc., whether that's in marriage or family or friends or church. Good thoughts - thanks for the post.

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

I found your blog through Margaret's and Leif's. I am one of those got married young. We were 19, my husband immediately went to war in Iraq for a year, we had our daughter at 22...

I didn't get to live the "typical" 20-something or teen life. But I'm happy about that. We aren't old and boring we just happen to live in a very grown up situation. I completely agree with what you said about our generation. My peers were partying at 19 and I was worrying about possibly being a widow as G.I Joe put his life on the line. That gave us so much perspective.

Sometimes though I still feel like a kid trapped in a grown up world :)

Rachel23 said...

Your post seems full of wisdom for a 23 year old. I think your observations about how we don't seem to grow up as quickly seem dead on. I am 26 and still trying to deal with being independent and responsible and not selfish, and I get frustrated when friends aren't as loyal or thoughtful as I'd like them to be...I have started chalking it up to their immaturity and trying to think "they'll grow out of it eventually." And hopefully we all will...

awmb said...

Wow Moorea, your post really spoke to me. I've been in this weird slump lately where I've found that the people around me aren't on the same page as I am. I think it's really hard to get around the fact that our whole society is based on individualism sometimes, too. It seems like every relationship is deemed to fail after marriage, or the fact that you shouldn't even try isn't well represented. I haven't even started planning my future in the sense that you mentioned. I've been working paycheck to paycheck since I was 16, and I can't imagine not. Is it that I don't have a second income to support me (ie relationship) or that I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and want to live a life that is exciting? I don't spend a lot of money, and rarely get new things, yet I'm still always broke. I'd love to be this person you speak of, but I find that money is controlling my every action. I guess I just need to try my best in all of the other things in life, and it will fall into place. Well, that's what I hope anyway.

Kendall said...

i think just about everything in this post is right on. i've gotten to that point of realization too where i'm starting to make adjustments and strive toward a more "adult" life, and i've found that most of my friends are not willing to follow suit. it's frustrating. i don't feel like i fit into the mold of what a person my age should be, which is really alienating, but i just keep telling myself that it will pay off in the future... and hopefully it will.

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